MOGOTE — A controlled burn that got away drew firefighters for three days and eventually destroyed or badly damaged seven structures around Mogote.
Heather Comstock, secretary of the Romeo Volunteer Fire Department said the initial fire was reported Saturday, May 9, and continued spreading.
The burn began at the Gutierrez residence, where all rules were followed regarding controlled burns, but the fire still got away, according to Antonito Volunteer Fire Department Chief Paul Duran.
It was an Antonito fire call and Chief Duran said a series of connected fires struck first at the residence of Valdino (Val) and Frances Gallegos, who were not at home, but returned to find their place destroyed and three dogs dead. A Marine, Gallegos had a collection of firearms that was saved, and two more dogs were saved by firefighters. The couple are staying in a camper at Cañon Bonito Campgrounds and work is being done so they can move back to their homesite and live in it.
An older couple, the Gallegos lived alone in the house and it was unknown if they had children.
On Sunday, the fire fanned up again and the flames got past a storage gate and went toward the Steve Atencio residence where significant smoke damage was found and the hay and hay shed were burned. The Atencios had numerous family members.
The Antonito fire department was paged back twice, as was the Romeo crew. Fire departments responding included Sanford.
The Romeo Volunteer Fire Department is seeking help and donations for the Gallegos couple.
Needs include food, pet food, paper products, blankets and clothing. Gift cards have also been suggested.
Val wears large shirts and size 36x29 or 38x29 pants, Frances wears large shirts and size 12 pants and some clothing donations have already come in. Any and all donations are appreciated. A collection box is at 14709 County Rd P, La Jara, actually just outside of Romeo. Text or call 719-298-6396 if more information is needed or items need to be picked up. Heather said, “We are doing fairly good with clothing and we are looking for a storage trailer or container to place on our property for donations coming in.”
A GoFundMe page set up and sponsored by Romeo Fire had gathered $4,700 by press time. Limited safe storage has been arranged and nonperishable foods can be held for distribution.