MOFFAT — A recent Saguache County Sheriff’s Office press release seems to confirm suspicions that the origin of Tuesday’s Moffat fire that destroyed four structures in the town is drug-related and may have been the result of a methamphetamine lab explosion.
According to the report, fire investigators were on scene Wednesday morning, but the cause of the fire is yet to be determined. However, State health inspectors also arrived at the scene Wednesday to perform air quality checks and the district fire chief advised anyone with lung or breathing conditions to stay indoors or leave the area until air quality is determined to be normal. He also instructed anyone with breathing issues to call 911 for medical assistance.
To date, no injuries from the explosion and fire have been reported. As of Wednesday morning, Saguache sheriff’s office classified the fire as contained, but still smoldering. Numerous vehicles, some believed to be inoperable, also were destroyed in the fire.
Valley Courier publisher Keith R. Cerny covered the fire scene live Tuesday on Facebook. According to Cerny, Sheriff Dan Warwick said the fire is believed to have started near a property that served as a large home and the business known as Crystal Stix. He also noted that one of the homes destroyed was said to be the first structure ever built in the town, which has a population of fewer than 200 residents.
After receiving the report of a structure fire in the Town of Moffat at 4:19 p.m., the Colorado State Patrol initially paged Baca Fire and Saguache Fire District units to respond to the scene.
According to Sheriff Warwick, Cerny reported, Moffat firefighters literally ran out of water because there are no fire hydrants in the town, which is located about 40 miles north of Alamosa. The closest water is several blocks away at the Moffat School and a fire well about 2 miles northeast of town.
When Moffat Fire Department members realized they were running out of water and were losing control, numerous other agencies were called, including Mosca-Hooper, Center Fire, Chaffee Fire as well as Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) based in Alamosa.
Valley Courier reported
Ironically, the fire broke out just across the street from the Moffat fire station. Warwick said witnesses speculated a propane tank near one of the destroyed structures may have exploded and ignited the conflagration that sent smoke soaring thousands of feet in the air, not to be outdone by the nearby Decker Fire south of Salida that has been burning for more than a month.
Located about a block east of Highway 17 and on the north end of Moffat, the fire quickly engulfed and destroyed a historic home on the Northwest end of the block, leaving nothing but two brick chimneys standing.
Warwick said it is believed that all three homes [then] destroyed were occupied. A bystander said once the second home caught fire it collapsed within 30 minutes. Numerous vehicles were destroyed. One pickup near the south end of the fire burned nearly to the ground despite firefighters’ efforts to put it out, and its headlights burned brightly till the finish. Several explosions were heard during the firefight believed to be propane tanks and fuel tanks in vehicles.
Two dogs may have been lost in the blaze, Warwick said, but it didn’t appear that any human life was lost, or injuries incurred.