MONTE VISTA — A large wind-driven fire erupted around noon on Wednesday, April 20 on the north side of Monte Vista, burning more than 10 homes. That total could increase as officials work on the incident.
Emergency response crews from Monte Vista Police Department, Monte Vista EMS, Monte Vista Fire department, Rio Grande County Sheriff, Del Norte Fire District, Del Norte EMS Alamosa Fire and Police Departments converged on Monte Vista to battle the fire as it whipped through grass near Acequia and West Sickles streets. No one has been reported injured at this time.
“There has been significant progress in containing the fire and crews will be monitoring it throughout the night,” said Rio Grande County Public Information Officer Courtney Arthur.
A reverse 911 call went out to residents at 12:30 p.m. alerting those in the immediate area to evacuate immediately as winds reached 11 mph with high wind bursts, causing the fire to spread rapidly. Details about the fire were unavailable for most of the afternoon as crews worked to contain the flames. Arthur continued to update the public as information flooded through different agencies working on the conflagration.
An emergency evacuation shelter was established by 1 p.m. at the Ski Hi Complex that afforded families evacuated from their homes a safe and secure place to go. At that time, it was established that several homes had been lost in the fire. Monte Vista City Manager Gigi Dennis stated that more than 10 homes had been lost to the flames that raged throughout the afternoon.
“The support from local companies and government agencies has been tremendous,” Dennis said.
By 2 p.m. a Colorado Division of Fire Protection and Control (CDFPC) unit was dispatched with a helicopter to the area which was used to extinguish several of the burning structures.
A mobile incident command center was provided by the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and CDFPC assumed command of the fire.
“If there is one thing we can be thankful for at this time is that the interagency partnerships quickly responded to this fire and have done an amazing job,” said Rio Grande County Commissioner Gene Glover. All other officials refused to comment until the press conference that was scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista.
As information became available it was determined that the fire started behind Absolute Shine in Monte Vista and was carried east along the main irrigation canal. Officials have not released any information on the cause of the fire at this time and stated that it may be weeks before a cause is determined.
Reports indicated that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was asked to assist with the investigation.
A Red Cross unit was established at the Ski Hi Complex to help with the evacuees. More details will be reported after the press conference.