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Man who started Colorado wildfire 'out of rage' sentenced

horsetooth reservoir fire sept2019.jpg
Posted at 11:51 AM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 13:51:27-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — A 34-year-old Colorado man accused of starting a wildfire near Fort Collins “out of rage and resentment” last September pleaded guilty to an arson charge and was given a deferred sentence as well as community service and probation.

Robert McGehee, of Fort Collins, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree arson, a felony, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, the Coloradoan reported.

Investigators say McGehee lit a patch of grass on fire in the Horsetooth Reservoir on Sept. 5 following a fight with his mother. McGehee’s mother told Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies her son was frustrated about a recent breakup.

McGehee told deputies he lit dry grass on fire “out of rage and resentment,” but minutes later took off his shirt in an attempt to extinguish the fire, police said.

The fire burned 16.2 acres (6.5 hectares) and cost more than $5,000 in resources to extinguish, according to arrest documents.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Gregory Lammons granted McGehee a four-year deferred sentence and 100 hours of community service for the arson charge and four years of probation for the criminal mischief charge.

McGehee must also pay nearly $500 in fees.