COSTILLA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials in Costilla County say they arrested one man, identified as Jesper Joergensen, on arson charges for the Spring Fire.

Jesper Joergensen (credit: Costilla County Sheriff)

The Spring Fire grew to more than 38,000 acres. Late Saturday afternoon, InciWeb officials announced the Pike San Isabel National Forest is now closed.

Officials say hot temperatures, wind and dry conditions fueled the fire on Friday. Crews worked on the east side of the fire near La Veta Pass to build a fire line with the help of air tankers and helicopters.

New mandatory evacuations were issued Saturday afternoon for Navajo Ranch, Majors Ranch and residences along County Road 530 and south to Hwy 160. This includes Vega Road near Navajo. Navajor and Pinion Hills are not under mandatory evacuations.

The Cuchara Valley area was evacuated Friday after the fire crossed Highway 160. That highway and Highway 12 are closed with no estimated time of reopening.

The evacuation place for all evacuees will be Walsenburg Community Center.

Matt Booth (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with one family who lost their historic summer home in La Veta.

(credit: Matt Booth)

“Complete annihilation. Just total devastation beyond anything I thought there would be,” Matt Booth described the rubble. “It’s a place we’d visit since I was 12 years old. And I’m 46 now. I have three boys,” he said of the historic family home.

(credit: Matt Booth)

The forest house holding decades of memories is now a single brick wall surrounded by bare, blackened trees.

(credit: Matt Booth)

“Before it was all wooded and when you looked around, you could see the forest. Now you can just look through as far as you can see because there’s nothing left,” Booth said.

A bird’s eye view from Copter4 shows the Booth home is far from the only one lost to a fire that investigators believe was intentionally set.

(credit: CBS)

Booth said the loss hit hard with his father, who purchased the home and spent many summers there with family.

“Digging through a foundation of ash, it was horrible to watch your parent do that. It’s almost like a death in the family. So I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the other people on the road where that was their primary residence. They lost everything.”

Spring Fire on June 29 (credit: Spring Fire Facebook)

Officials held a community meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Map of the Spring Fire on June 29. (credit: Spring Fire Facebook)

Firefighters say the southeaster side of the fire will be difficult because of steep, rocky terrain and large amounts of dead timber.

The Spring Fire (credit: CDOT)

The sheriff’s office say they hope to know more about any lost structures in the next several days.

While temperatures are slightly cooler Saturday, officials are concerned about strong, erratic wind speeds.

The fire burning east of Fort Garland is not contained.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Comments
  1. Samuel Green says:

    Since he like the heat, normally I would suggest all arsonists be transferred to Sheriff Joe Arpaio tent city in Arizona, where it’s 120* in the shade.

    But Joe’s tent city has no vacancy these days..

    So instead, they should heat his jail cell to 103.9*f with a Mr Buddy space heater, and heat it right below the crux of where a human body teeters on hyperthermia, and keep it at this temp 24/7 for his entire sentence.

    I have no sympathy for a lunatic like this that destroys people’s homes, burns to death dogs and cats trapped in their homes, and kills or displaces thousands of helpless birds, small mammals and all that are too slow to escape the flames.

    This guy sucks and I hope the judge throws the book at him.