BOULDER, Colo. — One of the campers accused of starting the Cold Springs Fire told investigators “It had to been us” because they were the only ones in the area where the blaze likely began, according to an arrest affidavit.
The fire has grown to more than 600 acres, and destroyed five houses and four outbuildings.
Jimmy Suggs, 28, and Zackary Kuykendall, 26, of Vinemont, Ala., were arrested Sunday on suspicion of fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony. The men face a felony arson charge because lives were endangered as a result of the fire.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Suggs, Kuykendall and Elizabeth Burdeshaw, 21, started a campfire that burned overnight Thursday into Friday morning. The sheriff’s office said the three were camping on private property and did not ensure the fire was properly extinguished.
According to the affidavit, witnesses told the sheriff’s office they had seen the three camping near where the fire started. In an interview with investigators, the three said they were in the area and reading their Bibles, camping at three different sites.
The three agreed to show investigators where they had been camping. The first campsite could not be located. At the third campsite, Suggs found a machete that he had left behind. While hiking back, the three and investigators discussed going to the second campsite.
However, there was an active fire in the area and Suggs said, “That’s right where we were,” pointing to the fire.
He also said, “It had to been us. There was no one else around.”
A few hours later, a fire investigator showed the three pictures of the area they had described as being their campsite. Suggs and Burdeshaw said it appeared to be their site, specifically indicating a stump in the geography looked familiar, according to the affidavit.
Suggs later said they had not put dirt on the fire, only rocks.
“Both Suggs and Kuykendall had a discussion about doing more to put out the fire but ultimately decided not to,” the affidavit said.
The fire investigator then talked with the sheriff’s detective and said he was “90 percent” certain the campsite was where the fire started. Suggs and Kuykendall were then arrested at Nederland High School and booked into the Boulder County Jail.
Karen Antonacci with the Boulder Daily Camera interviewed Suggs, Kuykendall and Burdeshaw the day before they were arrested.
“Oh, yeah, we seen around where it started,” Burdeshaw said. “We were pretty close.”
Burdeshaw is not facing charges because investigators said she had nothing to do with starting or maintaining the campfire.
Suggs said it looked “like the whole mountain range was on fire. … It was crazy. We’d never seen anything like it.”
Tom Bender, who was driving past the burn area on Saturday, captured video of the suspects as they were walking along the side of the road and jokingly accused them of being the ones who started the fire.