One person in custody for investigation of arson related to huge Spring Fire

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COSTILLA COUNTY, Colo. — One man was in custody for investigation of arson related to the massive Spring Fire in southern Colorado. A Costilla County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Saturday the suspect was taken into custody without incident following an investigation.

Jesper Jorgensen. Photo: Costilla County Sheriff’s Office

The suspect is identified as 52-year-old Jesper Jorgensen. He was arrested on Thursday and is being held on arson charges at the Costilla County Jail.

“The investigation is still ongoing so information on this matter is limited,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The Spring Fire grew to 38,136 acres as of Saturday morning. Fire managers expected hot, dry weather again Saturday. Firefighting conditions were expected to be similar to Friday, when the wildfire saw explosive growth.

The fire, which started Wednesday east of Fort Garland and southeast of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve,  forced people in several areas to evacuate in Costilla and Huerfano counties.

A community meeting for evacuees took place early Saturday afternoon at the evacuation center located at the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center, 17591 East Highway 160 in Blanca, Colorado.

Huerfano County Emergency Management said shelters have been established at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg and the the Community Center in Trinidad.

Animals are being sheltered at the La Veta 4-H Barn located at 401-499 Moore Avenue in La Veta. A secondary location for residents to take their animals has been established at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds in Trinidad.

Structures have been lost in the Spring Fire. Officials have not said how many have burned. They plan to identify the structures lost and ownership during the next several days.

They said they hoped to have more specific information Sunday. They were also in the process of establishing a disaster assistance center for affected residents.

Current evacuations include:

  • Wagon Creek
  • Forbes Park
  • Tres Valles
  • Paraise Acres
  • Raspberry Mountain
  • Pine Haven
  • Cuchara Valley
  • Navajo Ranch
  • Majors Ranch
  • Residences along County Road 530 and south to Highway 160 (including Vega Road near Navajo)

Spring Fire. Credit: Colorado State Patrol

Pre-evacuation orders are in place for the towns of La Veta, Cuchara and south of U.S. 160 in the Fort Garland area. Trinchera in Costilla County was on pre-evacuation notice as well.

Highway 160 remains closed due to fire activity along the road and there is no estimate of reopening at this time. Highway 12 is also closed in the Cuchara Valley area due to mandatory evacuations.

The fire five miles east of Fort Garland — about 160 miles south of Denver — is 0 percent contained since being reported Wednesday.

RELATED: Colorado fires

Correction: This post originally misspelled Jorgensen’s name. That has been corrected.

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