Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

14 Apr 2021

Wildland fire allegedly started by homeless man, not train

Posted by Adam Howell


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A wildland fire that was reported by The Durango Herald to have occurred in the City of Durango’s Oxbow Preserve actually occurred in an adjacent property owned by by Romad Investments.

wildland fireOriginally, the fire was first reported at 2:30 p.m. on April 2nd on the preserve side of Oxbow Park and Preserve.

Upon further investigation, it was evident that the fire and its associated spot fires occurred on the north side of the fence that runs along the northern boundary of Oxbow Preserve.

The 1.5-acre fire burned along the tracks of the Durango & Silverton Narrowguage Railroad.

No structures or human lives were lost in the fire.

The fire investigation report has not been completed, said Durango Fire Protection District Fire Marshall Karola Hanks.

Wildland fire allegedly started by homeless man

Thomas Joseph Cox, who lives in a tent north of the burn area, allegedly started the fire.

Thomas CoxIn an interview with me at his campsite, he said that he accidentally started the fire during a religious ceremony.

Cox said that he is a regular user of crystal meth.

Ultimately, he was unable to put out the fire on his own, as he was wearing sandals at the time, he said.

On the other hand, Durango Fire Protection District was able to control the fire at 4:45 p.m. on April 2nd, according to the NFIRS-1 Basic fire report.

Then, on April 6, 2021 police officers served Cox with a summons for Firing Woods or Prairie, a class 2 misdemeanor, according to the Supplemental Narrative of Officer Seth Karr.

None of the officers who wrote the police report were able to obtain a confession from Cox, according to the police report.

After the officers interviewed Cox and left, Cox admitted to Fire Inspector Christina Stillwaugh that he did start the fire, according to Sergeant Robert Taylor’s narrative.

P21-09020 Assist DFRA
Incident Report_21DF-1309

Adam Howell is a writer who is on the city of Durango’s Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board. His reporting and commentary does not reflect or represent the views of the Board or the municipal government. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.



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