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News Archive

March 21, 2017

Media Contact

Public Information Unit, 303-441-1500

The cause of the Sunshine Fire determined to be from a campfire

The campfire appeared to be associated with a transient camp west of the Centennial Trailhead

Boulder County, Colo. - Investigators have determined that the Sunshine Fire was human-caused and stemmed from a campfire in Sunshine Canyon west of the Centennial Trailhead on City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) property. Investigators found evidence at the fire's point-of-origin suggesting that the campfire was likely associated with a transient camp. No suspects have yet to be identified, but the investigation is on-going and no additional information about items located in the area will be released at this time. A map showing the campfire location is included below.

Investigators noted that the fire's point of origin was among a number of medium and large-sized rocks. The rocks appeared to have been placed into a hastily fashioned, ad hoc campfire ring of sorts. Investigators found a small amount of moisture at the point-of-origin and noted dirt had been kicked on top of the residual campfire, which suggested an attempt was made to extinguish the campfire at one point in time.

Mop-up operations at the fire continue today. The cost of the Sunshine Fire is currently estimated to be approximately $725,000, through yesterday evening. The last aerial mapping of the fire placed its size at 74 acres.

Anyone with information that may aid in the investigation of the Sunshine Fire should contact Det. Jason Shatek at (303) 441-3641. Anyone who would like to provide information but remain anonymous may contact Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000. Sheriff's detectives are investigating the fire as a fourth-degree arson, as well as a violation of the county's fire restrictions in effect at the time the fire started.

City of Boulder regulations prohibit camping and campfires on all of the city's Open Space & Mountain Parks' system, which encompasses more than 45,000 acres surrounding the city. Municipal fines for camping, along with starting or maintaining a campfire, can reach a maximum of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail; penalties are assessed by the municipal judge. For any questions related to property owned by the City of Boulder or for municipal ordinances, please contact Sarah Huntley at (303) 441-3155.

Boulder County is currently under Level I fire restrictions for the mountainous areas of the county; for more information on the restrictions, click here. Boulder County also has an ordinance that automatically enacts fire restrictions county-wide on days declared as red flag, fire weather watch, high-wind watch, and high-wind warning days, by the National Weather Service.

The case number assigned to this investigation is 17-1599.

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/s/ Cmdr. Mike Wagner
Public Information Officer