Former volunteer firefighter enters guilty plea in blaze

Staff report
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A former volunteer firefighter has pleaded guilty to intentionally setting a wildfire, a Class 3 felony, according to an Elbert County Sheriff’s Office news release. Alex Averett, of Elbert, is scheduled to face sentencing Sept. 16.

Earlier this year, authorities said Averett admitted to starting the June 2012 County Road 102 Fire. The blaze scorched 600 acres and forced the evacuation of 100 residents from the town of Elbert.

More than 100 fire and law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies responded to the fire at a time when resources were strained due to the Waldo Canyon and Hyde Park fires.

At the time, Averett was a 19-year-old volunteer with the Elbert Fire Protection District.

“I speak for all officers and volunteers of the Elbert Fire Department, as well as members of the Elbert community, in stating we were shocked and saddened to learn the alleged arsonist was one of our own,” Fire Chief John Gresham said in February.

Averett also pleaded guilty June 17 to criminal mischief, a Class 1 misdemeanor. He remains in jail on a $50,000 bond.

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