$200K awarded in Roatcap wildfire

Arsonist agrees to restitution order

Keywords: Dolores, Wildfire, Arson,

It took less than three minutes Monday for a district court judge to issue a $200,000 restitution order in connection to the 2012 Roatcap fire.

Appearing before Judge Todd Plewe on Monday, June 30, the defendant, Roger Stratton, 55, of Dolores did not contest the restitution amount. More than half the money, $109,000, was awarded to the U.S. Forest Service.

Last fall, Stratton pleaded guilty to starting a wildfire that scorched some 400 acres near Dolores on Oct. 24, 2012. He is currently on probation, which prohibits him from having any outdoor fire on his property.

In addition to the U.S. Forest Service, court records reveal the State of Colorado was awarded restitution of more than $50,000; Bureau of Land Management, nearly $12,000; and Empire Electric, some $9,000. The remaining restitution was divided among three insurance companies and six private property owners.

Solely dependent on Social Security benefits, Stratton isn’t expected to pay off the total restitution any time soon, according to his public defender.

At his plea hearing in November, Plewe placed Stratton on five years of supervised probation to ensure full restitution was made.

Stratton, 55, of Road P.5 near Dolores, admitted to starting the fire on his property near Roatcap Hill that forced the evacuation of about 30 nearby residences. He pleaded guilty to both a single felony and lone misdemeanor count of fourth degree arson.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com