Six families displaced by Monte Vista Fire; origin and cause under investigation, officials say

San Luis Valley officials share details on how you can help those displaced by the blaze
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Posted at 4:28 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 19:45:57-04

RIO GRANDE COUNTY, Colo. – Six families were displaced by the wind-driven Monte Vista Fire, which burned several structures and about 17 acres Wednesday afternoon, city officials said Thursday.

The fire, which started at around 12:15 p.m. on the north side of the city and almost immediately got out of control, was fanned by wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour, according to police chief George Dingfelder. It wasn’t until about 6 p.m. when the forward spread of the fire had stopped and was no longer growing, officials say. Around 100 homes were initially evacuated.

Most of the city’s residents were allowed to return by about 9 p.m., officials said in a news release Thursday, adding there are currently no reports of injuries or missing persons.

A perimeter around the evacuation zone to keep bystanders out and allow fire personnel to continue to work through hot zones remained in place until about 3 p.m. Thursday. Investigators continue to work a focal point just north of Acequia and west of Jefferson, on the west side of the trailer park, officials said.

Fire officials estimate 15 structures were lost or damaged in the fire, including homes and outbuildings. The results of the damage assessment, including the final number of lost structures and vehicles, as well as the origin and cause of the fire may take several weeks to be released once completed, city officials said.

The six families that were displaced by the blaze are getting help from the Rio Grande County Department of Social Services and the San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit.

City officials said they, along with Rio Grande County, are working together to declare it a disaster area, which will bring state and federal funding to assist those affected by the wildfire.

“The City of Monte Vista recognizes the extreme impact this fire has had on the community and will continue to work with the victims and those directly affected by this fire,” officials said in a news release. “We also offer our appreciation to all the surrounding first responders, especially our volunteer fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and the community members and businesses who provide resources, food, drinks, and other supplies for the victims”

From 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, the city will operate a disaster assistance center at Ski Hi Complex to provide assistance to those directly by the Monte Vista Fire.

If you'd like to help the people of Monte Vista, San Luis Valley officials say you make cash donations to MV Community Fund, write Fire Victims in the memo, 95 1st Ave, MV 81144.

You can also donate Food to the MV Food Bank by calling 719-852-4851.

If you'd like to donate clothing, the Nazarene Thrift Store at 730 1st Ave. in Monte Vista is accepting donations. Call 719-852-2713 for more information.

The Monte Vista Police Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and fire investigators from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control continue to investigate the origin and cause of the fire and have officers and agents working in the damage zone.

While it is very early in the investigation, there is no indication or reason to believe this was intentional, city officials said.