STERLING – A second man is charged in a pickup fire police say was deliberately set Christmas morning in Rock Falls.
Colten L. Ehrler, 25, of Sterling, was charged Wednesday with criminal damage to property, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, and misdemeanor theft. He is in Whiteside County Jail on $20,000 bond.
According to police, Ehrler and Nicholas J. Capes Sr., 37 of Rock Falls, were stealing gas when they inadvertently started the fire.
Capes also is charged with criminal damage to property, and theft and reckless conduct, both misdemeanors. He was issued a $30,000 recognizance bond and has a preliminary hearing Jan. 27.
Sterling police and fire departments responded shortly before 6 a.m. to the 600 block of West Ninth Street, where a red 1989 Ford F150 was fully engulfed. The gas tank was pierced, and items at the scene led them to suspect arson, they said.
Thursday, Ehrler was sentenced to 2 years for violating his probation in a May 2018 case in which he was convicted of dealing 30 to 500 grams of marijuana.