Teller County residents want an arsonist stopped before he does significant damage, so they're putting their money on catching him.
A new effort called the Community Protection Fund is now under way. The idea was born after numerous phone calls were received by The Mountain Jackpot and the Teller County Sheriff's Office asking about contributing to a incentive program that could lead to an arrest.
"Ultimately, it's going to come down to diligence and awareness, and we need everyone to pay attention," said Tony Perry, president of State Bank and Trust. It will be handling the single account for the community.
The Teller County Sheriff's Office said more than one dozen fires and up to 20 have been started since Monday. None have done more than a half-acre in damage, but they've kept emergency crews extremely busy, sometimes fighting more than one fire at once.
"A fire threat in the community, like we had with Hayman, we truly understand the devastation that the fire can cause," said Perry.
Donations will be accepted on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until noon. Monday, people can donate from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those behind the program said if the money is never used, it will be returned to donors.
"It will go into a fund where it will be controlled by the Teller County commissioners," said Perry.
Perry said a citizen will also be in place to oversee the distribution of the money, and the sheriff will also have a role in determining how critical the informant's tip was in leading to an arrest and conviction.