|Location||Douglas, Jefferson, Park, and Teller counties, Colorado|
|Date(s)||June 8, 2002 - July 18, 2002|
|Land use||forest, rural|
The Hayman fire was a forest fire that started 95 miles (153 km) southwest of Denver, Colorado and 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Colorado Springs on June 8, 2002, and became the largest of the Colorado wildfires in the state's recorded history. Hundreds of firefighters fought the fast-moving fire, which caused nearly $40 million in firefighting costs, burned 133 homes, 138,114 acres, and forced the evacuation of 5,340 people. Smoke could be seen and smelled across the state from Vail, 108 miles (174 km) northwest, to Burlington, 188 miles (303 km) east, and from Broomfield, 50 miles (80 km) north, to Walsenburg, 130 miles (210 km) south. The fire wasn't contained until July 2, 2002 and was finally brought under control on July 18, 2002. The cause of the wildfire was found to be arson.
When then-Governor Bill Owens responded to a reporter’s question following an aerial tour of the fires ("What does it look like up there?"), Owens said "It looks as if all of Colorado is burning today." Many western slope residents blamed Owens for driving away tourists with the press's truncated version of the quote ("All of Colorado is burning.") The Hayman fire was named for a mining ghost town near Tappan Gulch.
Ann Dow, 50, suffered a fatal asthma attack on the evening of June 10, 2002 when heavy smoke from the fire drifted over the Dows' home south of Florissant. She quickly lapsed into unconsciousness and paramedics could not revive her. Her death certificate lists the cause as "acute asthma attack due to or as a consequence of smoke inhalation."
Five firefighters died from injuries sustained from a June 21, 2002 traffic accident en route to the Hayman fire from Oregon: Zach Zigich, Retah Shirley, Jacob Martindale, Danial Rama, and Bart Bailey. They are listed in the memorial to fallen firefighters on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's website.
A forestry technician with the U.S. Forest Service, Terry Barton, set the fire in a campfire ring during a total burn ban triggered by a National Weather Service red flag warning. Barton's claim that she was attempting to burn a letter from her estranged husband was disputed by one of her teenage daughters who testified that a psychology teacher had told Ms. Barton to write her feelings in a letter and burn it. Many locals believe she set the fire on purpose so she could stay home and fight a local Colorado fire instead of being called to fight fires in other states, such as Arizona or California. This would enable her to be with her kids that summer. According to radio talk show host Glenn Sacks, investigators also speculated that Barton started the fire so she could be a hero for putting it out and saving the forest. The fire quickly spread out of the campfire ring and eventually torched over 138,000 acres (560 km2) and burned across four different counties. A federal grand jury indicted Barton on four felony counts of arson.
Barton pleaded guilty to two charges: setting fire to federal forest land and lying to investigators and was given a six-year sentence in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch refused, however, to impose the $14 million restitution asked for by prosecutors, saying he would not sentence her to a "life of poverty." Additionally, the State of Colorado sentenced Barton to 12 years in prison to run concurrently with the 6-year federal sentence. The state sentence was overturned on appeal, however, on grounds that the presiding judge had "the appearance of prejudice" because smoke from the fire had motivated him to voluntarily leave his home for one night. In March 2008, Barton was re-sentenced by a different judge to 15 years of probation and 1,000 hours community service.
The fire she ignited resulted directly in the death of one civilian, $39.1 million in suppression costs, the destruction of 133 homes with total private property losses valued at $40.4 million, and indirectly led to the death of five firefighters. Several insurance companies filed a $7 million suit against the government in the fall of 2008, claiming that Barton was negligent in her duties. In November, Judge Wiley Daniel ruled that the government was not responsible for Barton's actions because she was acting as an angry spouse and not as a government worker.
Images of fire damage
- Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002, a concurrent large wildfire in Arizona
- Healthy Forests Initiative, a federal law passed after the severe wildfires of 2002
- "Hayman Fire Incident Information". fs.fed.us. 2002-07-20. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- "Legal Troubles Not Over For Terry Barton". TheDenverChannel.com. 2002-12-11. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- "Fears May Be Outpacing Reality in Colorado Fires". New York Times. 2002-06-16. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- "The backcountry business". Summit Daily News. 2003-08-06. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- Huspeni, Dennis (2008-03-28). "Hayman fire-starter resentenced". Gazzette.com. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Sink, Mindy (2003-06-03). "Added Term In Forest Fire". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
- "When in Trouble, Blame a Man--Colorado Arsonist Terry Barton's Smart Strategy". "iFeminists.com". 2002-07-02. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
- "Forest worker indicted for starting wildfire". CNN.com. 2002-06-19. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- "Barton Pleads Guilty In Hayman Fire Case", TheDenverChannel.com, December 7, 2002. Accessed May 20, 2007
- "Prison Sentence Tossed Out For Hayman Firestarter". "TheDenverChannel.com". 2004-12-16. Retrieved 2004-12-16.
- "Hayman fire starter won't serve state jail time". "The Denver Post". 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Social and Economic Issues of the Hayman Fire", USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-114. 2003, 2003. Accessed July 1, 2012
- "Wildland Firefighter Memorial". "Wildland Firefighter Foundation". 2002.
- Carmona, Felicia (2008-11-26). "Feds not liable in Hayman fire". "The Denver Post".