A homeowner has been charged with a petty offense after officials say she started the Tally Ho Fire in Gunbarrel when she spread ashes over her garden, thinking it would make good fertilizer.
Helena Syrovatkova, 48, is 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 offense was recently downgraded from a misdemeanor to a petty offense, and it carries a maximum of 10 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. Prosecutors can also file for restitution if she were to be convicted.
According to a release, Syrovatkova lit a fire in a metal backyard fire pit on the night of April 18, and extinguished it that same evening. There were no fire restrictions in place at that time. At around noon the following day, Syrovatkova spread the ashes in a garden bed along the backyard fence of her property, believing the ashes were out and they would be good fertilizer.
A short time later, Syrovatkova was inside her home when she saw smoke and flames outside in the yard and called 911 and tried to extinguish the fire.
The fire spread to a field south of Tally Ho Trail and ultimately grew to 10 acres before firefighters were able to extinguish it.
While a few residents were evacuated, no injuries or damaged homes were reported.
Syrovatkova cooperated with investigators.
“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,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Syrovatkova does not yet have a first appearance scheduled, and documents in her case were not immediately available. Because she was not taken into custody, no booking photo was taken.