One of the owners of the Stagecoach ski area said vandals tried Tuesday night to burn down a cabin on the mountain south of Steamboat Springs.
“It’s bad enough breaking windows, but they potentially could have lit the entire Stagecoach area on fire,” said Chris Wittemyer, who co-owns the ski area that operated from 1972 to 1974.
The vandalism was discovered Wednesday morning, and it is suspected that four vehicle break-ins in the Stagecoach area are related.
Wittemyer suspects the vandals broke through a gate at the base of the ski area property. They broke windows out of two pieces of construction equipment before driving five miles up a road to the top of the ski area, where there is a remote cabin built in 1997.
He said they threw a rock through a window in the front door, and it appeared they used pool cues and balls to break 15 windows.
Wittemyer said the vandals started a fire just outside the cabin and fueled it with benches, a couple of five-gallon propane tanks and 10 smaller propane tanks.
They also lit a broom on fire and threw it in the cabin. It was found smoldering on the floor Wednesday morning along with the fire outside, which still was burning.
There were strong winds in South Routt County on Tuesday night and the area was under a red flag warning during the day Tuesday. Wittemyer said it’s remarkable the cabin did not burn down and did not start a forest fire. That area is littered with beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees.
The Routt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident at the ski area in addition to the vehicle break-ins. Undersheriff Ray Birch said four unlocked vehicles were entered and electronics and other personal items were taken. Two of the vehicles were parked at Stagecoach Townhomes in the 23100 block of Schussmark Trail. The other two vehicles were parked at the Eagles Nest Townhomes.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com