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June 23, 2022

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Charges filed in Tally Ho Trail Fire investigation in Boulder County

48-year-old female charged in fire that caused over $20,000 in damage

Boulder County, Colo. - On Friday, June 17, 2022, detectives with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office charged 48-year-old Helena Syrovatkova, a resident of unincorporated Boulder County, for her role in the “Tally Ho Trail Fire” that occurred in the afternoon of April 19, 2022. Ms. Syrovatkova was charged with “Firing woods or prairie” for causing a fire, through criminal negligence, that resulted in damage to the yards and fences of eight residential properties as well as open space grassland. The damage estimates from the resulting fire exceeded $20,000. The fire did not injure any people or animals and did not damage any homes. Ms. Syrovatkova has been cooperative with investigators since the beginning of the investigation. The crime of firing woods or prairie, listed in Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-13-109(1)(a), was recently amended by the Colorado Legislature from a class two misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Through investigation, detectives developed probable cause that Ms. Syrovatkova had lit a fire in a metal backyard fire pit on the night of April 18, 2022, and that she extinguished it that same evening. There were no fire restrictions in place at that time. At around noon on the following day, April 19, 2022, believing the ashes were fully out, Ms. Syrovatkova spread them in a garden bed along the backyard fence of the property at which she resides. She did this under the belief that the ashes would be good fertilizer. A short time later, she was working inside the residence when she saw smoke and flames outside in the yard. She immediately went outside to try to extinguish the fire and called for emergency assistance. Investigators, after consulting with the Office of the District Attorney and other agencies, concluded that Ms. Syrovatkova’s decision to spread the ashes was criminally negligent because it amounted to a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances.

Boulder County and Colorado in general have seen abnormally high and critical fire weather hazards so far this year in the wake of the catastrophic Marshall Fire. Boulder County has had at least 12 different wildland/grass fires so far this year, burning roughly 400 acres combined. Additionally, Boulder County was under a “Red Flag Warning” for an unprecedented 11 days during the month of April. Unfortunately, these dangerous conditions are expected to persist throughout the summer. Residents and visitors must exercise extreme caution with any potential fire-initiating activities and must take care to completely extinguish any fire—even on days when a Red Flag Warning and/or burn restrictions are not in place. Residents and visitors should be aware of their local, daily conditions in regard to fire danger. Information on fire conditions and restrictions is available on the Boulder County website at: boco.org/FireRestrictions.

Ms. Syrovatkova is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The associated case number for the Tally Ho Trail Fire investigation is 22-01714.

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/s/Detective Sergeant Clay Leak