By Owen Woods |

THE 12th Judicial District Attorney’s office filed charges Monday against one man accused of arson in an April fire in Monte Vista that destroyed 15 structures and burned a total of 17 acres.

Darrius Garcia, an employee of Absolute Shine Auto Body and Paint where investigators say the fire started, will face allegations that he “recklessly started a fire endangering property valued between $100,000 and $1,000,000,” the complaint read.

Garcia will have a second court appearance in Rio Grande County District Court at 11 a.m. on Dec. 8.

“Garcia is presumed innocent pending final disposition of this criminal matter,” the district attorney’s office said in a released statement. “This is an ongoing investigation and the Office of the District Attorney recognized the tremendous work of our first responders in their quick and efficient response to this incident.” 


The fire started just after lunch on April 20. Heavy winds whipped across drought-stricken pieces of land, creating the perfect environment for a destructive fire. The entire San Luis Valley was under a red flag warning at the time.

In May, investigators concluded the cause of the fire was “trash or rubbish burning” and the point of origin was on the east side of Absolute Shine on the 800 block of Acequia Drive.

Due to a quick door-to-door response, a reverse 911, and an armada of local firefighters, nobody was seriously injured in the blaze. 

Deputy State Fire Chief Paul Duarte said “there was an opportunity for things to be very bad.”