Terry Lynn Barton left federal prison yesterday, six years after starting the largest forest fire in Colorado history, reports the Rocky Mountain News. Barton, 44, was picked up by her husband, John, the same man whose letter about their planned divorce she burned in a campfire ring, sparking the 137,000-acre Hayman Fire. Barton, a U.S. Forest Service worker when the fire broke out, served five years and two months of her six-year federal sentence after factoring in good behavior. She must begin serving 1,500 hours of community service under her state sentence.
Barton was ordered to reimburse the U.S. Forest Service $14,671,510 and is waiting for a judge to finalize the amount she owes the state – up to $27.5 million more. It will be up to Barton’s probation officers to arrange payments on the debt, only a sliver of which she’ll likely ever be able to repay – a fact prosecutors acknowledge. The fire destroyed 133 homes, forced thousands to evacuate and left a blackened dead zone in the Pike National Forest and surrounding land in four counties.