The Crestone Eagle, July 2006:

Mato Vega Fire–too close for comfort!

by Kimberly Bryant, Administrator BGVFD

A wild fire that started June 18 on La Veta pass, just east of Ft. Garland, brought smoke to the San Luis Valley as it burned nearly 14,000 acres (a little over 20 square miles). As of June 28 the fire was 70% contained, with recent rains and higher humidity helping the firefighters. Although the fire never threatened the northern San Luis Valley, the smoke raised awareness of just how close we are to a similar event. Lightning caused the fire on Sunday, June 18, which was coincidentally the start of our local Fire Safety and Danger Awareness Week.

Fire fighters and equipment from the Baca Grande were called out around 5pm on June 18 to assist with the initial attack in the Mato Vega Fire. The area is known as Malo Vega, but the fire was mis-named Mato Vega. Malo Vega can be interpreted as “Mean Meadow”. Although the fire was big, it wasn’t mean­—no lives or houses were lost. The smoke column from the fire could be seen growing every afternoon north of the Sand Dunes.

High temperatures, low humidity and strong winds gusting over 40 miles per hour were the perfect conditions for the fire to grow dangerously every hour.

Local fire fighters from three departments went out to help. From the Baca Grande Fire Department: Robin Durrance, Treat Suomi, Eddie Patton, Ben Brack, Windy Wadsworth, Ivan Lakish. From the Crestone Fire Department: Austin Hennigan. From Kundalini Fire Management: Peter May, Frederick Dunets, Jeffrey Learned and Morgan Dokson. They all did a great job and we should be very proud that they responded to help our neighbors.

Coolbroth Canyon Fire
A fire in the mountains just west of the town of LaGarita also burned for several days in late June. The fire was supposedly started by a cigarette butt. The smoke was clearly visible from the San Luis Valley and Crestone. It was reported on June 27 that this fire is now officially out.