By Mary Lowers
photos by Lori Nagel
According to a statement from the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), a Colorado State Patrol dispatcher received a report at 4:19 Tuesday October 15 of a structure fire in Moffat. Fire spread quickly engulfing four buildings and setting fire to vehicles.The cause of the blaze which included an explosion that could be seen from Casita Park is still under investigation.. As I write this, the fire is still smoldering in places.
Four structures including a house thought to be the first house ever built in Moffat, were lost. Sadly dogs belonging to residents of a burnt home were not able to escape the blaze. No human lives were lost.
I heard Crestone Fire engines racing out of town with sirens blaring followed quickly by Baca Fire vehicles. Saguache, Mosca/Hooper, Center Fire, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, and the State Department of Fire Prevention and Control out of Alamosa were on the scene to support the Moffat Fire Department.
Because Moffat has no fire hydrants, Chaffee County Fire Protection Chief, Robert Bertram, sent a tender that could haul 2,500 gallons of water to the scene. The tender went and filled up at an irrigation well 2.5 miles from the scene. The tender then filled fire engines with water to fight the blaze.
According to Chief Bertram there were two spot fires, one 200 feet in diameter, caused by blowing embers. Although a county wide burn ban is in effect, Bertram said, “We believe somebody was burning debris and it got out of hand.” Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick said that a propane tank near a destroyed structure may have been ignited causing it to explode sending smoke thousands of feet into the air. The Sheriff believes the fire started near Crystal Sicks one block east of Hwy 17 at the north side of Moffat. He also reported numerous vehicles were destroyed and a pickup situated at the south end of the fire burned up completely.
State investigators were in Moffat doing air quality checks. The District Fire Chief advised anyone in the area of the fire with lung or breathing conditions to stay indoors. The Moffat School and Moffat Clinic closed early due to air quality concerns. Fire investigators on the scene have yet to determine the cause of this devastating blaze.