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:
“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.
“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.
“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!
Colorado journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a media company that publishes SaguacheToday.com and LeadvilleToday.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.