Woman faces probation after prison term for starting Colorado wildfire | AspenTimes.com
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Woman faces probation after prison term for starting Colorado wildfire

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A former U.S. Forest Service employee who started Colorado’s worst wildfire has been sentenced to 15 years of probation and 1,500 hours of community service.

Terry Barton was resentenced Thursday after her original state sentence of 12 years in prison was overturned.

The Colorado Court of Appeals threw out the first sentence because the trial judge had been forced from his home one night by smoke from the fire, giving him at least “the appearance of prejudice.”



The Appeals Court also said that the maximum state sentence without a jury finding aggravating circumstances was six years, the same as her federal sentence.

Barton pleaded guilty to both state and federal arson charges and has served nearly six years in a federal prison. She is due to be released on June 2.




Barton has said she accidentally started the 2002 Hayman wildfire when she burned a letter in a campground.

Teller County District Judge Thomas Kennedy, who resentenced Barton on the state charge, said it would be pointless to impose a new prison term because it would have been served concurrently with her federal sentence under her plea agreement.

Prosecutors had sought unsuccessfully to void the plea agreement.

Barton has said she accidentally started the 2002 Hayman wildfire when she burned a letter in a campground.

The fire scorched 138,000 acres in the Pike National Forest, destroyed 133 homes and 466 outbuildings and forced more than 8,000 people to leave their homes. The fire was fueled by forests left tinder-dry by a severe drought.

Barton has been ordered to reimburse the federal government $14.6 million but doesn’t have to start paying until her state restitution has been determined.

District Attorney John Newsome said prosecutors will seek $30 million in restitution for the state. They have 90 days to file a request.