Reminder to be careful out there:
Valley remains under Red Flag warning

By Owen Woods |

RECENT fires in Alamosa and Monte Vista were both caused by humans, investigators say, providing reminders of the dangerously dry conditions across the San Luis Valley and neighboring region.

Alamosa Fire Chief Don Chapman attributed the April 18 fire that burned 13 acres on south State Avenue as human-caused. He continues to keep a watchful eye on the severe drought that has Alamosa County under a Stage 1 Fire Restriction, which means no open burning, no sale or use of fireworks, and no outdoor smoking allowed. 

Chapman said it’s too early to tell if July 4 fireworks will be in play this year. That decision likely would come later in June.

In Monte Vista, investigators determined the town’s April 20 fire that burned 15 structures across 17 acres was due to “trash or rubbish burning,” according to Police Sgt. Michael Martinez. The fire’s focal point was narrowed down to the east side of Absolute Shine on the 800 Block of Acequia Drive.

Martinez said during a community update that the department is still open to more information but as of now, the investigation has concluded. The department is still awaiting reports from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control. The supporting documents will be given to District Attorney Alonzo Payne, who will determine if any charges are pursued.

Monte Vista has maintained its city-wide fire ban since the April fire.


The entire Valley remains under a Red Flag Warning. Rio Grande National Forest is implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions effective Friday, May 20, while Mineral County Stage 1 fire restrictions begin Monday, May 16.

In neighboring northern New Mexico, Taos and Angel Fire were under direct threat from the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak Fire heading into the weekend. As of Friday, May 13, the fire had fallen below 30% containment and has burned over 270,000 acres. A total of 1,832 fire personnel were fighting the fire.

A report published from the NRCS on Snowpack Data shows the Upper Rio Grande at 0.7” of snow-water-equivalent, putting it on track for the fastest melt-out in history. The melt-out conditions are bad for water supply and have potential lasting consequences for wildfires over the summer. 

“The relentless spring winds have accelerated the snow melt and drying process this year,” said Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas. “With the increasingly dry conditions, unfavorable long-term forecast, and the beginning of the summer recreation season, we feel (Stage 1 restrictions) this is a prudent decision.”

Compared to county fire restrictions, the National Forest restrictions also restrict any welding, blasting of any kind, chainsaws without spark arrestors, fireworks, and open pit burning. 


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