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Moffat Blaze Destroys 3 Homes

By Kathy Bedell, Saguache Today

On Tuesday, Oct. 15 a blaze broke out in the small town of Moffat Colo., in Saguache County. According to a spokesperson from the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) in a phone interview with Saguache Today:

Moffat residents scramble to get RVs and other fuels-for-the-fire out of its direct path as crews battle the blaze set off by an explosion according to eye-witness reports. Photo: Saguache Today/Celeste McGlen

“On 10/15/19 at 4:19 p.m. Colorado State Patrol received report of a structure fire in the Town of Moffat. Baca Fire and Saguache Fire District Units were paged to the scene. Several agencies including Mosca-Hooper, Center Fire, Chaffee Fire as well as State DFPC Engines were dispatched for mutual aid. At this time the fire has been contained however is still smoldering. It is confirmed at least four structures were lost. No injuries have been reported at this time. Fire investigators are on scene however cause of the fire is yet to be determined. State Health Inspectors will be arriving on scene shortly for air quality checks. Per the District Fire Cheif anyone with lung or breathing conditions are advised to stay indoors or leave the area until air quality is determined to be regular. Anyone with issues breathing please do not hesitate to call 911 for medical assistance. ”

As officials comb through the scene for details, community reports from eye-witnesses and social media platforms begin to fill in the blanks.

“A visiting friend and I were headed over to eat at Grammy’s (Kitchen),” Celeste McGlen of Crestone explains referring to the popular eatery located off Highway 17 in Moffat. “We had just put in our order when the electricity went out.” As the restaurant’s owner and guests prepared to remedy that situation, McGlen and her friend set out towards Moffat to see what was happening.

Smoke from Tuesday’s fire in Moffat could be seen all across the San Luis Valley.

“We didn’t get too close, but it was before the fire department had arrived. There was a big scurry of neighbors. At this point the fire was burning the backside of the green building,” stated McGlen.

It’s at this point in the story, and collaborated by several independent sources, that Saguache Today is able to confirm that ground zero for the fire and subsequent explosion began at what is more commonly known as the Crystal Stix building, located at 645 Moffat Way. A well-known entertainer on the local arts scene, Crystal Stix utilizes a unique dance form that involves twirling and balancing two sticks in a rhythmic and creative way, most often to the beat of the music.

As reported by officials, the blaze would eventually destroy four structures, including three homes in all. While there were no reports of injuries, posts about missing pets continue to linger as the smoke settles and everyone hopes for the best for their furry neighbors’ return.

“We could hear the occasion ‘pop’ of what we assumed were propane tanks,” McGlen describing the scene as they were among the first to arrive. This observation also supports several reports that the fire started separately from the fuel tank, but once it made that connection, the acceleration was tremendous and rapid.

Neighbors also sprang into action by removing two big RVs which were in the direct line of the fire, just before two bulldozers arrived to open up an access point to the fenced-ff area for fire crews. Eventually, the first fire truck arrived on the scene and set up a hose to begin dousing the blaze with what McGlen described as “a small squirt,” it was doing “something, but it wasn’t much.”

Later reports indicate that it was a nearby rancher who saved the day, opening up his artisans water wells for crews to replenish their water supplies to battle the blaze. As is the case with many small rural communities, fighting fires becomes rudimentary in towns like Moffat where there are no fire hydrants or central water sources for such incidents. Ironically, the blaze ignited less than a block from the Moffat Fire Department located at 430 Reynolds Avenue.

Scenes from the October 15 fire in Moffat. Photo: Saguache Today/ Celeste McGlen

“This was the third structure fire in the past week,” reported Tina Freel, owner of Grammy’s Kitchen, a popular eatery and central meeting place for community information. While there have been no official reports about either of the fire incidents reported on Sunday, Oct. 13, for residents in the San Luis Valley, common threads from all three incidents are beginning to appear, from people burning trash during a fire ban restriction, to the less likely theory that something more sinister is afoot. As of today, investigators are on scene sorting through the clues.

But for the three families who lost their homes, displacing at least 5 Moffat residents, Freel relayed that efforts were already underway with the American Red Cross, the lead agency for assisting families impacted by the incident.

“The woman from the Red Cross said that she’ll be in touch about what residents can do to help” stated Freel, who will continue to provide some great food and community service to the town they serve. And for that, everyone can be grateful!

A blaze that brought a multi-agency fire-fighting response to the town of Moffat on October destroyed four structures, including three family homes.

Colorado journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a media company that publishes SaguacheToday.com and LeadvilleToday.com. She may be reached at info@saguachetoday.com.

SLV Museum Hosts Speaker

On Thursday, Oct. 17 the San Luis Valley Museum Association will be hosting guest speaker Jillian Allison from History Colorado to talk about the Women’s Vote Centennial Colorado (WVCC) which will commemorate the Centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020.  The presentation will be held at the Transportation of the West Museum at 916 First Ave. in  Monte Vista at 11 a.m. The WVCC program is a comprehensive statewide effort to examine the importance of voting in our democracy.

The Women’s Vote Centennial Colorado program kicked off at the State Capitol last August. Photo: History Colorado

Last August 26 on Women’s Equality Day, the Colorado Governor, representatives of History Colorado, and the newly formed WVCC program made history on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol when they kicked off the commemoration of the 19th Amendment which happened on August 26, 1920. On the anniversary of the largest voting-rights expansion in U.S. history, August’s event launched a full year of educational programming, community engagement, and partnerships in all 64 Colorado counties.  And next Thursday the Centennial celebration is coming to the San Luis Valley!

Allison will also discuss how local residents, groups, or organizations interested in organizing an event or exhibit can get involved. History Colorado, the state agency leading the initiative, announced inclusive, historic opportunities for Coloradans to participate, join grassroots efforts, and honor the bold individuals who fought for female voting rights. These events will take place in 2020.

“We want this work to live on and to create a buzz within every Colorado community. It is only through partnerships and collaboration that we can reach individuals statewide with messages, programs, and experiences that explore the journey and struggle to achieve voting rights,” said Dawn DiPrince, chief operating officer of History Colorado. “We want to provide educational touchpoints and help tell these untold stories that bridge history with modern-day Colorado.”

In 1893, Colorado was the first state to outlaw, via referendum, denying citizens the right to vote based on their sex. The national women’s suffrage act would take another 25 years!

History Colorado invites interested organizations and individuals across the state to collaborate together to create space and events for civic engagement, commemoration, impact, and support. Statewide partnerships between local museums, libraries, clubs, schools, arts organizations and individuals in communities will provide settings for suffrage-related events and dialogue. 

In 1893, Colorado was the first state to outlaw, via state referendum, denying citizens the right to vote based on their sex. This took place more than 25 years before the national women’s suffrage act was signed into law on Aug. 26, 1920. The trailblazing collaborative fight for women’s voting rights changed the course of history in Colorado and continues to inspire social, economic, political and cultural advancements today. 

“As the first state to give women the right to vote by popular referendum, Colorado has a lot to be proud of and a lot to commemorate,” said Cathey M. Finlon, chair of the Colorado Women’s Vote Centennial Commission. “We also have the opportunity to understand what brought this vote to pass — the coalitions, the economic anxieties, the societal situations that came together to achieve this momentous result. We will call attention to Colorado’s important role in the national movement for the women’s vote while inspiring new action and research.” 

Last August 26 on Women’s Equality Day, the Colorado Governor, representatives of History Colorado, and the newly formed WVCC program made history on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol when they kicked off the commemoration of the 19th Amendment which happened on August 26, 1920. Photo: History Colorado.

About History Colorado

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. The charitable organization and historical agency serves as the state’s memory, preserving the places, stories and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, a public research library, collections, and outreach to Colorado communities. History Colorado has become a force for finding new and inclusive ways to serve Coloradans.

With eight museums around the state, History Colorado shares the cultures and stories that define Colorado’s past and present, including History Colorado Center (Denver); Center for Colorado Women’s History at Byers-Evans House (Denver); El Pueblo History Museum (Pueblo); Trinidad History Museum (Trinidad); Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center (Fort Garland); Healy House Museum & Dexter Cabin (Leadville); Ute Indian Museum (Montrose); and Fort Vasquez (Platteville). Visit HistoryColorado.org or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.

Centennial celebrations being planned across Colorado for the 19th Amendment in 2020. Get involved in Saguache Today.
The 19th Amendment marks 100 years of the Women’s Vote in 2020. Photo: History Colorado.