Teen charged with arson for starting Battlement Mesa fire
A 14-year-old Las Animas boy was charged with nine counts of first-degree arson Wednesday for the 156-acre wildfire on Battlement Mesa that burned nine homes, according to District Attorney Mac Myers.
The youth turned himself in to a Grand Junction bail bondsman Tuesday evening. Mesa County authorities took him to the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center, a state juvenile prison, where he is presently being held without bond.
Myers declined to release the youth’s name.
A detention hearing was held Wednesday morning by telephone with Magistrate Bob Cutter, during which the youth was informed that he will be held without bond.
An arrest warrant issued Tuesday originally set bond at $10,000, but when the teen did not turn himself in as expected, Myers changed the warrant to no bond.
Myers said he had asked authorities in Bent County to take the boy into custody, but the Las Animas police apparently told the boy to go to Glenwood Springs and turn himself in.
A formal advisement of charges is to be held next Tuesday before Juvenile Court Judge Steve Carter. The youth will be formally advised of the arson charges then.
Myers said the boy was visiting relatives who live in Battlement Mesa. He allegedly used a cigarette lighter to start some grass on fire near Smokey Hill Court.
Stiff afternoon winds quickly spread the fire, which burned up Monument Gulch and around Monument Creek Village, where nine homes were destroyed. Local insurance agents are estimating the losses caused by the fire at around $3 million, which includes houses that were damaged in the blaze, as well as the nine homes, and their contents, which burned to the ground.
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.