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Hewlett Fire May Have Contaminated Fort Collins Drinking Water

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Livermore resident Craig Anderson took this photo of the Hewlett Fire.

Livermore resident Craig Anderson took this photo of the Hewlett Fire.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)- There is concern that the Hewlett Fire may have contaminated the drinking water in Fort Collins.

The Burn Area Emergency Response Team just completed its survey of the fire’s environmental damage.

Fort Collins city leaders said the erosion in the burn area above the Poudre River could increase the amount of sediment in the water.

“We are concerned with the runoff, not so much the ash or the debris that we may see, which we might see some, but also the water quality constituents,” said Fort Collins Utilities spokeswoman Lisa Voytko.

It could affect the water for up to three years. The city said it will monitor water quality closely.

The fire northwest of Fort Collins burned nearly 7,700 acres, or about 12 square miles. It cost nearly $3 million to fight the fire.

The camper who went to authorities and said he started it by accident has been identified as James J. Weber, a mental health counselor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He could be on the hook for millions of dollars for fighting the fire.

Weber told the Forest Service he placed a tiny camp stove on a rock and turned away. When he turned back it was on the ground with a fire burning. He tried to stomp it out, but it expanded greatly.

The fine and fee for the ticket Weber received totals only $325, but the restitution the government may seek could go into the millions.

Wildfire Resources

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Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfire (Fourmile Fire) and largest wildfire (Hayman Fire) in Colorado history.

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