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County seeks harshest penalty possible for man accused of burning slash again

One of the slash piles burning on Christopher Linsmayer's property on Tuesday that caused Kremmling Fire and Grand County Sheriff's Office to respond.
Courtesy Henry Meier

In an unusual step, Grand County commissioners have sent a letter to the 14th Judicial District Attorney asking for the harshest prosecution possible for a man facing 24 counts of arson.

The DA’s office charged Christopher Linsmayer, 68, with 12 counts of felony arson and 12 counts of misdemeanor arson after emergency crews responded to his home on Oct. 27 for 12 slash piles with four actively burning.

According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Linsmayer was not on the property when fire crews arrived to extinguish the slash piles, and crews had to hike into the property because an engine couldn’t get near the area due to snow.

Linsmayer has repeatedly been warned about burning slash on his property out of season, and a letter signed by all three county commissioners is asking the prosecutor to pursue the “strictest charges, punishment and ramifications.”

“It is our hope that whatever consequences Mr. Lismayer faces from these most recent actions are not only punitive, but are proactive in putting an end to this behavior and associated community threats going forward,” the letter reads.

Responding to the letter, District Attorney Matt Karzen said he is bound by the law, but always tries to ensure an appropriate level of consequences.

“We seek to hit the right balance of accountability given the facts of the law in every case and that’s exactly what we will do with Mr. Linsmayer,” Karzen said over the phone Tuesday.

Reached Wednesday, Commissioner Kris Manguso explained that the board took the unusual step of reaching out to the DA because Linsmayer’s fires have been an ongoing problem. 

The most recent charges came just days after the East Troublesome Fire burned over 100,000 acres in Grand County in a single night.

“Enough is enough,” Manguso said. “What is it going to take to stop this guy?”

Linsmayer faced similar charges last year after burning slash piles on a Red Flag condition day in August, and he pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Grand County ordinance regarding burn permits. He was sentenced to pay roughly $1,500 in fines and a $1,000 donation to Mountain Family Center or victim restitution.

Previously, Linsmayer was accused of starting the 2016 Gore Ridge Fire, a 10 acre wildfire that began on Linsmayer’s property and spread to a neighboring property, causing over $100,000 in damage.

An investigation into the Gore Ridge Fire revealed that Linsmayer had burned three or four slash piles larger than allowed by ordinance. He was not cited for the wildfire but agreed to pay roughly $190,000 in restitution.

GCSO records also show Linsmayer was cited for a county ordinance violation on Nov. 1, 2016. Other reports of inappropriate burning were filed on April 7, 2017, and Sept. 16, 2017, but Linsmayer was not cited.

Manguso said county commissioners also directed the county’s building department to red tag Linsmayer’s property, which has not been approved for occupancy yet. 

“He has no respect for Grand County and our laws … so I think we need to do whatever we can do to encourage the DA to give him the severest penalties possible,” she said.

Linsmayer’s attorney, Jack DiCola, declined to offer comment about the letter. 

Linsmayer is husband to Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.

He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 15.


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