Weber Fire investigation moves forward

Blaze intentionally set, sheriff says; decision on charges up to DA, feds

CORTEZ – The investigation of the Weber Fire has been completed and now is in the hands of the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office said.

In late June, the Bureau of Land Management and the Sheriff’s Office reported the investigation had zeroed in on a juvenile as the potential suspect in causing the 10,133-acre blaze that sparked the afternoon of June 22.

Sheriff Dennis Spruell last week confirmed that it was a local juvenile who intentionally set the fire.

District Attorney Russell Wasley referred all questions to James Candaleria of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When contacted, Candaleria said he could not comment about who would prosecute the case until formal charges are filed.

He said that the Weber Fire case had been an active investigation by federal authorities for some time, but said he could not comment any further at this time.

Spruell said authorities targeted a suspect within days of the fire beginning, and now it is up to the district attorney to decide what to do and whether to prosecute a juvenile.

“It wasn’t an accident,” Spruell said of the fire.

For more than two months, authorities have been tight-lipped about the investigation.

Shannon Borders, BLM public affairs specialist for the Southwest District, said last week that the case still was under investigation so no information could be released.

Spruell said he would release information about the investigation as soon as it was allowed.

The fire, estimated to have cost $3.2 million to fight, started about six miles south of Mancos and was fully contained July 5.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com