WALSENBURG — Walsenburg and Huerfano County officials were notified last week of a possible civil lawsuit that may be filed by John Chadil seeking damages from the May 31, 2013 Main Event fire. The notice of intent filed on Chadil’s behalf by his attorney, Carl Fatta of Pueblo, was dated November 18, 2013 and says it could seek $200,000 or more in damages. The Huerfano World Journal obtained a copy of the letter which says, “The Huerfano County Fire Protection District (Walsenburg Fire Department) responded at approximately 6:30 pm. The Huerfano County Fire Protection District were not properly equipped with the water necessary to fight the fire and the fire was purposely left to burn as a ‘controlled burn’ for approximately 45 minutes to one hour after their arrival. As a result of their negligent decision to let the fire burn, the fire spread across the alley to other properties.” The letter of intent went on to say, “The City of Walsenburg was negligent in their failure to provide the protection necessary. But for the negligent acts and/ or omissions of the city’s agents, and/ or employee fire department, the fire could have been extinguished before the 3 mobile homes were destroyed”. The letter also alleges the Walsenburg Police Department, “also failed to provide adequate security to the home of Claimant (John Chadil), the so-called ‘crime scene.’ Claimant was not permitted to return to his home and it was burglarized. Claimant suffered a theft and loss of valuables stolen from his home”. Regarding damages to Chadil, Fatta wrote, “ Economic Damage as a result of lost merchandise and inventory, loss of personal property as a result of a break in at Claimant’s home which was to be secured by police as a ‘crime scene’. Loss of value to real property. Non-economic damages for loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, depression. Economic and non-economic losses continue but now exceed $200,000”. On June 2, 2013, WPD Lt. Kurt Liebchen, obtained an arrest warrant for Chadil, 61 (at that time), on five counts of 4th degree arson (class 4 felonies), five counts of reckless endangerment (class three misdemeanors) and five counts of violation of bail bond conditions associated with his bond from another criminal case. In his affidavit for the June arrest warrant for Chadil, Liebchen said, “On June 1st, Arson Specialist Brett Ellis of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation came to the scene. Based on the evidence at the scene, Ellis told me that the fire began in a metal trash can in the middle of the back area, which was concealed by what was determined to be a laundry cart. Because of the winds that day, the fire quickly got out of control, and spread to the piles of rubbish underneath a semi trailer in the yard. This then spread to the trailer, and the rest of the cluttered items in the yard, and then quickly spread across the back alley, to the trailer court, causing the destruction of the three trailer homes”. The Quinteros, Webb, Jennings and Martinez households were displaced by the fire, although no injuries were reported. All four of the families whose homes burned escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. Huerfano County was under a ‘red flag’ fire warning the day of the fire and the arrest warrant affidavit indicated no burn permit had been obtained by Chadil prior to the fire. A preliminary hearing concerning the criminal charges against Chadil is set for 2:30 pm Thursday, December 19 in district court in Walsenburg. Chadil has remained free on a $15,000 case only bond in the arson case.
by Nancy Christofferson HUERFANO — Author’s note: I had such a good