FORT GARLAND — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the Spring Fire, which was listed as five percent contained and at 78,944 acres as of Tuesday, July 3, 8:30 a.m.
The suspect who was apprehended by Costilla County deputies without incident was Jesper Jorgensen. Multiple agencies assisted in the investigation and his arrest.
When Costilla County Undersheriff Ricky Rodriguez announced to the evacuees at the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center on Saturday that a suspect had been apprehended, there was applause from the crowd.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who assisted the sheriff’s office in Jorgensen’s capture along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, placed an immigration detainer on Jorgensen - who is from Denmark - at the Costilla County Jail. These detainers are placed on immigrants who are likely up for deporting as well as immigrants who’ve allegedly committed a crime. Basically, the detainer means ICE would like to take custody of the person if and when they are released from jail for any reason, ICE said.
Rodriguez and others speaking to the group also stressed that the fire area is still off limits, and anyone going into that area will be charged.
“It’s not safe,” they said. There are downed power lines and propane tanks and other hazardous materials creating unsafe conditions in the burn area, they said.
They also said drones are forbidden over the fire area. As the briefing was going on, Rodriguez received a text that a drone was spotted in the fire area.
Incident Commander Shane Greer said drones fly at the same elevation as the helicopters and other aircraft that are fighting the fire, and if they come in contact with a drone, they could crash, so if drones are flying in an area, the firefighting aircraft will be grounded for safety.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the fire has closed US 160, between Fort Garland and La Veta (mile marker 258 to 293) and CO 12, between La Veta and Cuchara Pass (mile marker 7 to 22.5).
As of Sunday, 593 homes in Costilla County have been evacuated and 1,483 homes were evacuated in Huerfano County.
At least 104 structures were confirmed as lost on Monday evening.
The Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team Black has assumed command of the blaze - Team Blue joined them Monday to take command the fire north of Highway 160 while Team Black remains in control of the southern portion of the blaze.
Huerfano Emergency Dispatch said mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Navajo Ranch, residents along County Road 350 and south to Highway 160 in Huerfano County due to the Spring Fire.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered around 8:45 p.m. Sunday for those north and east of Trinchera Ranch Road and south of Highway 160 in Fort Garland. The evacuation shelter is the Blanca Fort Garland Community Center.
So far, 550 personnel have been assigned to the wildfire. The Spring Fire is now the largest wildfire burning in Colorado - outpacing the 416 Fire that’s sitting around 49,300 acres after a month of growth.
See https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5875/ or www.slvemergency.org/ or https://m.facebook.com/springfire2018
Call 719-695-9573 for fire-specific information.
Fire-related community information for Costilla County: 719-480-8719.
Also, watch Valley Publishing’s Facebook page for current information.