MONTE VISTA — Most residents who were evacuated due to the Monte Vista fire were allowed to return to their homes late last night, the Monte Vista Police Department reported Thursday morning, April 21.
Fire personnel conducted a thorough evaluation of the undamaged structures in the evacuation area and were comfortable allowing residents to return home around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, MVPD Police Chief George Dingfelder said.
Law enforcement continued a perimeter around the evacuation zone through the night to keep bystanders out and to allow fire personnel to continue to work the hot zones, Dingfelder said.
This perimeter will remain in place until fire personnel make the determination it is safe and to allow a complete damage assessment by the Rio Grande County Assessor’s Office of the burned structures. The initial damage assessment was being conducted Thursday.
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 early in the investigation, there is no indication or reason to believe this was intentional, Dingfelder said.
The results of the damage assessment including the number of lost structures and vehicles; and the origin and cause of the fire may take several weeks for final results but will be released once completed, Dingfelder said.
Currently, there are no reports of injuries or missing persons. There are six families that are displaced by the fire and are being helped through the Rio Grande County Department of Social Services and the San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit.
The City of Monte Vista and Rio Grande County are working together to declare this a disaster area, which will bring state and federal funding to assist those affected by the fire, Dingfelder said.
"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," Dingfelder said. "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."