Woman implicated in wildfire called dedicated?

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by colt45, Jun 18, 2002.

  1. Front: Forestry technician charged in Colorado wildfire

    Copyright © 2002 AP Online

    Woman implicated in wildfire called dedicated, well-liked
    Woman charged in Colorado wildfire appears in court
    National Fire Center
    Fire service worker allegedly started fire

    By JENNIFER HAMILTON, Associated Press

    FLORISSANT, Colo. (June 17, 2002 11:03 a.m. EDT) - A U.S. Forest Service ranger credited with alerting authorities about a fire that has blackened nearly 103,000 acres and destroyed 22 homes was charged with starting the blaze by burning a letter from her estranged husband.

    Federal prosecutors said forestry technician Terry Barton, 38, illegally started the fire June 8. If convicted, she could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $250,000 in fines.

    At the time the fire broke out, Barton was assigned to patrol the Pike National Forest in central Colorado to enforce a fire ban imposed because of a drought.

    The Forest Service and Barton's friends and family expressed shock that someone they knew and trusted could have set the blaze.

    "I'm shocked and with a lot of other people, in a state of disbelief," said Rick Cables, regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region for the U.S. Forest Service.

    Barton said she started burning the letter within a designated campfire ring, where fires normally would be allowed, then tried to put out the blaze.

    "She attempted to suppress the fire but it grew," U.S. Attorney Bill Leone said.

    Driven by roaring winds, the fire spread to within 10 miles of Denver's far southwestern suburbs last week. Calmer, cooler weather and higher humidity helped crews dig lines around 47 percent of the blaze Sunday, but about 5,400 people remained out of their homes.

    Barton lives in Florissant, about 60 miles southwest of Denver. The city was among the hardest hit by the blaze, and many homes were evacuated.

    "We all wanted to believe it was some fool from somewhere else. You can understand that, we don't want to believe it. That it's one of ours makes it real sad," said Jody Penny, 45, who was evacuated from Florissant Heights on Tuesday and has been staying at an inn.

    Barton initially told authorities she smelled smoke, discovered an illegal campfire and tried to put it out by throwing dirt on it. Investigators later determined she could not have smelled smoke from the position she reported and investigators confronted her with unspecified forensic evidence.

    She was charged with setting fire to timber in the national forest, damaging federal property and making false statements to investigators, said Leone.

    A hearing was scheduled for Monday in federal court in Denver.

    Barton has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 18 years, first as a seasonal employee and then year-round. She told reporters last week that she wouldn't rest until someone was arrested for starting the illegal camp fire.

    Although some who know Barton said they were stunned and disappointed, others voiced support.

    "She was really liked by everybody, a swell person and hard worker for the Forest Service," said Joan Spigner, who runs a convenience store in Lake George, where Barton shops.

    Neighbor Mike Vial told The Gazette of Colorado Springs that Barton is a dedicated firefighter and a good person.

    "I think this was a bad situation, and she made a stupid mistake. I don't blame her for anything. It was a stress thing," Vial said.

    About 2,200 people were fighting the fire, which has cost $6.7 million so far to fight.

    Another blaze flared in southwest Colorado and had forced the evacuation of about 860 homes by Sunday night. The latest fire had burned more than 26,000 acres in the San Juan National Forest.

    In addition to the evacuations, residents of 450 homes were told to be ready to leave. One cabin was destroyed, and fire managers were trying to determine whether others had burned.

    More than 900 firefighters battled the blaze, about 10 miles north of Durango.

    In California, firefighters battled a fast-moving fire that burned 3,500 acres of rugged forest land and caused the temporary closure of Interstate 15 in San Bernardino. Buffeted by hot, dry winds, the fire jumped the freeway at least twice, authorities said.

    Higher humidity and slightly cooler temperatures helped crews battling fires in northern New Mexico. The state's largest blaze, which has charred 92,500 acres on the Philmont Scout Ranch, was 75 percent contained and full containment was expected Wednesday.
  2. One second of bad judgement



    Let's take this story on it's face value. barton was/is a swell person. Dedicated and hardworking, liked by most.

    She gets a letter from her estranged hubby, reads it gets p'od and torches it........and 1/2 the state.

    That one second of bad judgement caused millions in damages, has expelled 4,500 from their homes, destroyed homes and businesses, put thousands of lives in great danger, and effectively ended her career and possibly her freedom.

    I have also just heard that a firefighting plane has gone down, and all aboard were lost. If this was over this fire, her bad judgement has also cost 3 lives.

    Never mind she lied to authorities about the fire in the first place. She is a bad liar, thus telling me she does not do it often.

    My ultimate take is a good person has ruined her life by one stupid act, apparently done in rage.

    It will certainly make me think twice before flying off the handle in a rage again.

    Not preachin, I'm no preacher. Just some random thoughts on the issue.

  3. Klaus

    Klaus G&G Newbie

    She was a fire fighter who started and illegal fire during a drought and due to gross negligence let it get out of control, then lied to authorities. I hope she gets totally hammered in civil suits and loses all her property for the incredible amount of damage she has caused.

    NRAJOE YOU TALKIN' TO ME!? Forum Contributor

    Just like a woman, get a bad letter from her husband and scorch half the state!:flame: :hmmm:
  5. Oxford

    Oxford G&G Evangelist

    I've got mixed feelings about the penalty for this crime

    I've got mixed feelings about how this woman firefighter(#1)should be prosecuted.

    How would you compare the seriousness of the following crimes as compared to the current firefighter's crime? Rank the most serious crime as #1 and #5 as least serious.

    2. President of the USA uses bad judgement and has sex with an intern and then lies about it.

    3. President of the USA becomes aware of a clandestine burglary and then lies about it several times.

    4. A policeman is convicted of using excessive force or even kills an innocent bystander in subduing a criminal.

    5. A personal financial investment agent is convicted of stealing from a client's retirement nestegg instead of investing the funds in a retirement fund as promised.

    Here's my ranking: 4, 1, 5, 2 & 3.

    Maybe these aren't the best examples but my point is that I don't believe the crime was premeditated, just a serious example of bad judgment. Many lives were seriouly placed in jeopardy, some lives may have been lost (this may or may not have already happened), millions of dollars of property damages were caused, the employee lied to her superiors and the empoyee broke the law which prohibiting all fires in the park.

    Human bad judgment occurs all the time. Sometimes this bad judgment cannot be ignored and someone has to pay the price to set an example for others.

    Unfortunately, the lady firefighter's career will probably be ruined, her reputation will permanently be ruined, her retirment will be in jeopardy, and lots of other penalties will occur, plus whatever penalties the courts convict her of plus the civil suits she may face from indivudual property owners whose property was destroyed. The USA forest service may become a party to any such lawsuits since she was their employee and on duty.

    There's no easy answer. Everyone loses.

    That's my thoughts on this issue.

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2002

    NRAJOE YOU TALKIN' TO ME!? Forum Contributor

    Every action causes a re-action, good or bad. Poor judgement is no excuse. You must always be aware of your actions and how they would affect the people and properity around you. It is sad but she knew better and will pay the price now.
  7. Nothing like a woman's scorn. Just kidding of course--I feel for those folks in Colorado.
  8. I guess I'm the only one here that feels a little sorry for her. Yes, she did make a really stupid mistake and tried to cover it up by lying about it. We've all made mistakes but hopefully not one as big as this. Her life is ruined because of this and if she is convicted she will probably never have two nickels to rub together. She is being held without bail and the authorities say its for her own good because she is so hated by so many people. She was a good employee with 10 or 11 years with the forest service. I've lived in Colorado and have been through all of the burned areas and hated to see them go up in smoke but IF it was an accident, I dont think we should direct all of our hate towards her. Some day the forest will be green again.
  9. Yes rtlesnkesbite I beleive it was a mistake, but am glad I am not in her shoes.
  10. Klaus

    Klaus G&G Newbie

    The fact that she deliberately set the illegal fire in the first place shows it was not an accident.
  11. Oxford

    Oxford G&G Evangelist

    All the potential charges are not on the table yet.


    You're not alone in your feeling. I tend to lean in her favor, too. In my earlier post I was pointing out that there are a lot of more serious crimes (premeditated) that I think should be prosecuted with stiffer penalties.

    She made an impulsive mistake out of her anger at the moment. According to my way of thinking, Nixon, Clinton, and the other examples I referred to above, except the mistake by a cop during an arrest, should get heavier fines/penalties. As you know, Nixon and Clinton didn't spend time behind bars, or pay financial penalties...they just lost whatever reputation's they had left.

    The person who swindled investment funds from the elderly couple received a fine and spent three years behind prison bars.

    The cop example was in reference to examples which I've read about in the news occasionally. Don't know their outcome as far as penalties.

    The lady firefighter will pay a heavy price for life, regardless of any civil or criminal charges levied against her.

    Just heard on the news this evening that the crew members from a cargo plane were all killed. As a result all the potential charges are not on the table yet.