SAN LUIS — Advised by telephone Thursday afternoon, Jesper Joergensen, 52, was told he faces 141 individual felony counts of first-degree arson.
Joergensen, an undocumented Danish national, was not physically in the courtroom and was represented by the public defender.
All judges in the 12th Judicial District have reportedly recused themselves in the case and an outside judge has been appointed from another district. The 12th Judicial District Attorney filed the charges. No mention was made of bail.
Joergensen is scheduled for a status hearing at 4 p.m. Aug. 2 and a preliminary hearing beginning at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 and Aug. 17. Bond is also expected to be discussed.
Arrested without incident June 27 as he and his dog sat in a pickup truck alongside Mountain Home Reservoir, Joergensen is accused of starting the Spring Fire — the third largest wildfire in Colorado history —first telling authorities he had been burning trash but later changing his story to say he'd been cooking meat on a fire pit when the fire got out of control. A Stage 2 Fire Ban was in effect, allowing absolutely no burning.
The rapidly moving blaze covered more than 107,637 acres of forest and foliage, as well as homes and structures in its path, yielding the large number of arson charges.
The Department of Homeland Security-Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) also said Joergensen was in the country illegally because his visa had expired.