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Suspected arsonist in custody as massive, growing fire causes widespread evacuations

As firefighters battle a growing wildfire that started last week in Fort Garland, authorities now believe an arsonist is to blame for what is now being called the Spring Fire.

According to KDVR, 52-year-old Jesper Jorgenson was arrested on Thursday, the day after the fire was first reported.

“The investigation is still ongoing so information on this matter is limited,” a Costilla County Sheriff’s Office statement on Saturday revealed.

As for the fire he allegedly sparked, it had grown to more than 38,000 acres as of Saturday. The blaze was 0 percent contained at that time with officials fearing that hot, dry weather would present continued obstacles in battling its growth.

According to Huerfano County Emergency Management, shelters had been established for residents and animals being evacuated from the area.

Officials confirmed multiple structures have already been damaged or destroyed in the fire but did not provide specifics.

In an interview with CNN, Matt Booth said his family lost a summer home in La Veta, describing the residence as destroyed by the raging fire.

“Complete annihilation,” he said. “Just total devastation beyond anything I thought there would be.”

He said what was once a thick wooded area around the home has also been leveled.

The official Twitter account for Spring Fire information provided updates and images throughout the day on Sunday.

“#SpringFire crown fire on La Veta Pass, 1:07 pm Sunday, July 1,” one tweet stated. “The fire found an island of thick, unburned fuels.”

[Featured image: Jesper Jorgenson, Costilla County Sheriff’s Office]