Colorado High Park Fire: Potential Looters Pose New Threat

PHOTO: Michael Maher is shown in this booking photo.
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With so many homes and neighborhoods evacuated during Colorado's week-old High Park fire, the local sheriff has a new worry: potential looters.

Police arrested a 30-year-old Denver man, Michael Stillman Maher, on Saturday, accusing him of using phony firefighter's credentials to enter the fire's restricted area. His truck had stolen government license plates, police said.

Maher at first evaded authorities but was found later that night at a local bar. He was arrested for impersonating a firefighter, theft and attempting to influence a public servant. Police say they found stolen property and a gun in Stillman's car, although they did not say if it came from a home evacuated because of the fire.

A Larimer County Sheriff's Department statement said there were no confirmed cases of looting, but residents expressed concern because Maher was able to reach areas that were blocked off to the public.

"Residents worried about looting in the fire area should be reassured there is a very strong law enforcement and National Guard presence to deter any such activity," said the statement.

Officials said they are beefing up roving patrols and deploying mobile surveillance equipment to catch looters in the act.

"We have extra roving patrols to watch for looters," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said at a briefing. "If someone's sneaking around back there, we'll find them."

Maher is currently in a Larimer County Jail, and bond has been set at $15,000, according to the local sheriff's office. Maher made an initial court appearance earlier this afternoon.

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