Thomas Howie, 36, of Fort Collins pleaded not guilty on Aug. 1 to a charge of 4th degree arson, a class four felony, related to the Crystal Fire north of Masonville earlier this year. The fire, which blew up on April 2, destroyed 13 homes and burned approximately 2,940 acres before it was contained on April 11.
A trial date of Nov. 29 was set. If Howie is convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a fine of $500,000.
Howie is alleged to have started the fire on April 1 while burning slash on private property. According to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, he left the property without reporting the fire.
Four days have been reserved for the trial.