Firefighters responded to four small wildfires Thursday in the Boggy Draw area in Montezuma County and to a cabin fire Wednesday in Dolores County.
Shane Thomas Jones was arrested early Thursday morning by the Dolores County Sheriff’s Office and charged with suspected first-degree arson, second-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief in connection with the cabin fire.
The cabin is off the Dolores-Norwood Road, (Forest Road 526) south of the intersection of the Cottonwood Road and the CO₂ pumping station
According to an arrest affidavit, Jones admitted to starting the cabin fire, and then said he stated he started other fires in the forest on his way to Dolores.
The wildfires occurred on the San Juan National Forest and are under investigation by federal law enforcement.
According to the arrest affidavit, during an investigation with Dolores County deputy Coty Kelshaw Thursday morning, Jones stated he “burnt down that old shed where Kin and Mike were going to kill me that day and went through the forest and set a few fires.”
When asked where the shed was located, Jones stated “the cabin over by the pump station.”
When asked how he started the cabin fire, he said he poured gasoline on logs by the front door “and lit the damn thing,” according to the affidavit.
“I set three or four fires after the cabin . . . south and east of there,” he added.
Jones then “went down the trail until he found another camp and began screaming fire,” according to the affidavit. He continued on to the town of Dolores and called himself in.
Four wildfires that burned several miles northeast of Dolores Thursday were contained as of Friday, said Patrick Seekins, fire management officer for the San Juan National Forest. Their cause is under investigation.
No injuries were reported.
Three of the wildfires along Forest Service Road 527 were an acre or less. Another, dubbed the Colt Fire, burned nearby north of Forest Road 257A and reached 30 acres.
Jones was contacted as a suspect of the cabin fire by Montezuma County and Dolores County deputies in Dolores about 2 a.m. Thursday, said Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
He had reportedly crashed his motorcycle and was attended to by Dolores Fire Department EMTs who had just returned from the cabin fire, according to Chief Mike Zion of the Dolores Volunteer Fire Department.
Jones reportedly told EMTs he had “started the fire in the cabin near the pump station,” according to the affidavit. EMTs contacted law enforcement. After Jones’ comments to law enforcement, federal fire agencies were notified.
Jones was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital, where he was read his Miranda rights. He gave permission to be interviewed by Dolores Sheriff Deputy Kelshaw.
He told the deputy he had a camp near the pump station on Forest Road 249. After the interview, Jones was arrested on arson and other charges for the cabin fire, and taken to the Montezuma County Detention Center.
During a Dolores County court advisement hearing Friday via video feed from jail, Jones said he did not want a bond set and that he was safer in jail because people were looking to harm him. Another court date was set for Monday to provide time for Jones to meet with his public defender.
The Dolores Volunteer Fire Department responded to the cabin fire Wednesday evening. It was put out about 1 a.m. Thursday. It was completely destroyed, said Zion. A nearby cabin was threatened but did not burn.
Firefighters with the San Juan National Forest and Colorado fire agency responded to the four wildfires in the Boggy Draw area throughout the day Thursday, Seekins said.
The San Juan Hotshot Crew was also called in, and a Single Engine Air Tanker dropped loads of fire retardant.
High winds and dry conditions pushed the Colt Fire fire north and northeast.
The four wildfires were contained by 9 p.m. Thursday and were being monitored Friday. Significant rain fell Friday morning in the Boggy Draw area, helping to douse hot spots.
The three smaller fires were burning off Forest Road 527, 3 to 4 miles northeast from the Boggy Draw trailhead in close proximity to each other. Two fires were on the east side of the road, and one was on the west side, Seekins said. They all burned near the road, and were separated by a mile or less.