BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A location connected to the religious community Twelve Tribes is one of the many areas investigators are honing in on as they look for a cause surrounding Colorado’s most destructive fire.
The location, near the 5200 block of Eldorado Drive, is just one of the many layers to this investigation, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
The Problem Solvers contacted members of the group. They didn’t comment on the investigation into the cause of the Marshall Fire, but they acknowledged people from the group would be more willing to answer our questions once the dust settles.
Pelle said this investigation could take weeks or longer.
“We’re going to be methodical because the stakes are huge,” Pelle said.
What happens if someone is held responsible?
Meanwhile, the Problem Solvers are looking into what could happen if a person or group is responsible for the inferno.
“The first and most important thing is that there be a careful and thorough investigation that figures out what actually happened,” said Stan Garnett, the former district attorney for Boulder County. He said there could be a range of possible legal consequences, including civil and criminal liability.
“Civil penalties are pretty low-threshold. You know, you’re going to be dealing with damages somebody would seek to recover from the harm that was caused, and the harm here is catastrophic. It’s going to be probably hundreds of millions, probably billions of dollars,” he said.
Garnett said sometimes there will be insurance policies a part of these investigations, depending on where the fire started, and who started it. Of course, those policies all have limits, probably far exceeded by the losses in the Marshall Fire.
But, what about criminally?
“In terms of criminal, the issue is going to be is it a misdemeanor or a felony? And that’s going to depend on how intentional was the behavior or how careless or negligent was it that actually started the fire, if it’s human-caused,” Garnett said.
“In Colorado law, those are the two things that will determine whether it’s a misdemeanor or whether it’s a felony,” Garnett said.
To be absolutely clear here, no group or person has yet been blamed for this fire, as this investigation continues in its early stages.
Pelle has made clear over the last several days that the investigation will be thorough and he will not speculate on a cause.