Howie to be sentenced in Crystal Fire arson

Thomas Howie, who pled guilty to arson Nov. 30 in connection with the Crystal Fire in April, is due to be sentenced Feb. 10, 2012.

Howie’s plea came on the second day of his scheduled four-day trial in District Court in Fort Collins. He had originally entered a plea of not guilty to the single count of felony arson for starting the fire north of Masonville.

Howie was burning slash at 2394 Granite Road, a property co-owned by his father, on April 1. Heavy winds pushed the fire east, and although it was thought to be extinguished that day, it blew up again on April 2 and burned for 10 days. The Crystal Fire destroyed nearly 3,000 acres and 13 homes and structures.

Howie remains free on bond until sentencing, when he could face two to four years of incarceration. He is also eligible for probation or community corrections, at the discretion of District Court Judge Stephen Schapanski.

A civil lawsuit against Howie brought by several area homeowners is scheduled for a hearing in August.

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