The man charged with arson in connection with the Roatcap fire near Dolores said little during his brief appearance in front of Montezuma County Court Judge Jennilynn Lawrence Friday, except to respond, “I didn’t!” when she cautioned him not to start any fires until his next court appearance Monday.
Dolores resident Roger “Bucky” Stratton, 53, is charged with fourth-degree arson in connection with the fire, which burned nearly 400 acres on Wednesday and Thursday and prompted the evacuation of at least 30 families. Stratton was arrested Thursday afternoon and remains free on a $3,000 bond.
Sheriff Dennis Spruell, while not identifying Stratton Thursday evening, stated the person responsible was not believed to have started the blaze intentionally, but had been careless and needed to be held accountable for his actions that led to the fire spreading and threatening dozens of homes.
In the courtroom Friday before court was called to order, Stratton denied to a sheriff’s deputy that he was responsible.
“I didn’t do nothing,” he declared to the deputy in the courtroom. ”I told them what happened and they blew it all out of proportion.” Stratton then said the incident involved his dog, but did not explain further.
The fire began Wednesday morning at roads P.5 and 29 and swiftly spread, fanned by 30-mph gusts. Firefighters from numerous departments around the area responded.
Evacuated families have since been allowed to return to their homes and the fire has been largely controlled, though residents are warned to continue to look for hot spots. No structures were destroyed.