Steamboat Springs man accused of arson in connection with shed fire
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A local resident was arrested Thursday on suspicion of arson after allegedly causing a shed in the 300 block of Kelhi Court to catch fire, according to an arrest affidavit from the Routt County Justice Center.
Hudsen Mertz, 22, faces a fourth-degree arson charge, a felony, for recklessly causing an explosion on his own property and placing his family and neighbors in danger, the affidavit said.
Mertz had been living in the shed, located within 5 feet from his parents’ house. A cul-de-sac of other homes surrounds the shed.
Mertz told Steamboat Springs Police Department officers he was refilling a can of butane, a highly flammable gas, inside the shed when flames suddenly erupted. By the time firefighters arrived, Mertz and his father had extinguished the flames and smoke was billowing from the structure.
The two men suffered minor injuries trying to put out the fire. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters treated them for their injuries, which included burn marks and singed hair.
The men declined to be taken to the hospital for treatment. They later transported themselves to the hospital, according to the affidavit.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters found a butane torch and several cans of the gas that had been pulled from the shed. His father told officers his son uses the torch to work with glass.
Doug Shaffer, the fire marshal for Steamboat Fire Rescue, investigated the area after the fire. He contacted the Regional Building Department and found that the shed was not a permitted structure.
“It doesn’t fit the planning code regulations, either,” he said.
Shaffer served a notice to the residents of the home that the shed was not safe for someone to live in.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
Mertz’s bail has been set at $10,000.
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