Woman cited with causing Boulder County grassfire after pouring ashes from fire pit in her garden


A 48-year-old woman was cited for causing a grassfire in eastern Boulder County, after she spread still-smoldering ashes from her fire pit in her garden, thinking they would be a good fertilizer, authorities said Thursday.

Helena Syrovatkova, of unincorporated Boulder County, was accused of causing the April 19 fire along the Tally Ho trail after she spread the ashes, which she believed were fully extinguished, in her garden bed in her backyard, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said. Shortly after, she saw smoke and flames and called 911.

The resulting Tally Ho fire — which grew to 10 acres and prompted evacuations before it was extinguished — was another example of a potentially dangerous fire sparked by negligent behavior at a time of rising fire risk across the state.

Investigators deemed Syrovatkova’s decision to spread the ashes “amounted to a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The fire, which sparked south of the Twin Lakes neighborhood in Gunbarrel,  burned fences and yards at eight residential properties, causing $20,000 in damage, authorities said. No one was injured and no structures were lost.

Syrovatkova was charged with “firing woods or prairie,” a petty offense.

There were no burn restrictions in place when Syrovatkova started the fire in her fire pit, but dry conditions have caused abnormally high and critical fire weather in Boulder County and across the state this year. 

Since the catastrophic Marshall fire, at least 12 wildland or grass fires have sparked in Boulder County, burning roughly 400 acres combined, the sheriff’s office said. In April, the National Weather Service issued 11 red flag warnings for high winds, which is unprecedented for the month, according to the sheriff’s office. 

“Unfortunately, these dangerous conditions are expected to persist throughout the summer,” the sheriff’s office warned. 

Similar negligence prompted a fire in northeast Colorado Springs in May after it was sparked by smoldering ashes from a resident’s fire pit.

The Akerman fire endangered 500 homes and led to the evacuations of about 1,000 people, police said. Joshua Allen was cited with “firing woods or prairie” for unknowingly and without recklessness setting grounds on fire after he dumped ashes from his fire pit over his fence.

Because a burn ban was in place, Allen was charged with a class 6 felony, TV news station KRDO reported

A fire in Monte Vista, that destroyed several homes and scorched 17 acres in April, was caused by someone burning trash, according to the Monte Vista Journal.



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