CONEJOS COUNTY — On Sunday, Oct. 27, a rapidly moving fire of unknown origins near Lobatos in Conejos County forced evacuations and burned at least 2,000 acres, as well as one home.
Another home south of Manassa burned to the ground the same day, but was not connected to the wildfire, according to Connie Ricci, Conejos County public information officer.
That home was occupied by Paul Garel, a popular Manassa employee. He and his three children were able to escape and the wife/mother Miranda, was at work.
They lost everything they owned, along with a family pet.
Conejos County Sheriff Sheriff Garth Crowther said it might have been a chimney fire. A GoFundMe account has been set up for them. A goal of $5,000 has been set.
To support the family go to: gf.me/v/c/ymbj/paul-and-miranda-garel
Ricci said firefighters had knocked that fire down and were cleaning and mopping up at around 4 p.m. when they received a call about the wildfire and responded.
They did not take a break from the first house fire, Ricci said.
As the rapidly moving fire covered more and more acres, another occupied home was burned, along with a garage, grain bin and saddle shed. Ricci said that home is part of the fire investigation so its occupants cannot be identified.
Sheriff Garth Crowther said the name he has now is Angela Duran.
Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents joined the local and Colorado State Fire Prevention and Control and South Conejos Fire Protection District in seeking cause of the massive fire and then Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents arrived this week to continue the probe.
ATF had been asked to send arson investigators as part of search for cause of the fire.
Named G-18, the fire started the afternoon of Oct. 27 and the South Conejos Fire Protection District was dispatched to an area near County Road G and County Road 17.
When fire crews arrived, the fire had begun to spread north and east. Large numbers of cattle were displaced and numerous fences, pasture and haystacks were burned.