Two Monte Vista homes destroyed in fire

Two homes were destroyed by fire Wednesday afternoon in the 700 block of Clay Street in the Lariat subdivision on the southwest side of Monte Vista. Photo by Brian Williams

A family is displaced and being assisted by Red Cross

MONTE VISTA — Bernadette Duran hugged and huddled with former neighbors and watched in dismay as flames destroyed two homes — a blue stick house and a purple mobile home — in the 700 block of Clay Street on Wednesday, March 8. She lived in the blue home for 10 years.

“We lived there from 1988 to 98, but I don’t know who lives there now,” Duran said. She learned of the fire after talking to her brother.

“He said, ‘your old house is burned down’ So, I came out here,” Bernadette said. “Oh my gosh that is so sad.”

The fire in southwest Monte Vista destroyed two homes on Wednesday afternoon, March 8, according to the Monte Vista Police Department. A family was displaced by the fire and received assistance from the American Red Cross and victim’s advocates.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the Monte Vista Fire Department was notified of a residential fire in the 700 block of Clay Street.

The fire was fanned by northeasterly winds and quickly spread, fully engulfing the homes. No injuries were reported.

MVPD, Colorado State Patrol, and the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office assisted MVFD with evacuations and securing the area.

Black smoke billowed from the fire into the mostly cloudy sky and could be seen for miles. People gathered on the edge of the incident as firefighters worked, taking photos, and shooting videos with their phones.

Law enforcement stopped people and vehicle traffic from entering four at four intersections — Clay and Pennsylvania, Cass and Clay, Morton and Pennsylvania, and Cass and Morton.

Less than an hour after putting water on the fire, MVFD had it contained to the two properties, preventing further damage or destruction, MVPD Chief George Dingfelder stated in a press release Thursday morning. Both properties were considered a total loss.

MVFD had two engines on Clay Street dousing the blaze with water guns. A third engine was in the alley behind the homes and a fourth was on Cass Avenue.

During the fire, the Monte Vista School District sent a notice to parents that Bill Metz Elementary was being evacuated to the high school and that students could be picked up there, emphasizing that the evacuation was “just a precaution.”

Parents were advised that students normally dropped off at Bill Metz would be taken to the high school instead. They further advised those living in the Lariat area to not allow kids to walk home.

After the fire was knocked down, firefighters spent a couple of hours mopping up.

The origin and cause of the fire have not been determined, Dingfelder noted. MV Fire Chief Pat Sullivan requested the assistance of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) investigators to help determine the origin and cause. The Monte Vista Police Department is assisting in the investigation along with the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Investigators were looking over what remained of the two homes Thursday morning.

“It is too early in the investigation to determine whether this was accidental, carelessness or intentional,” Dingfelder stated. “That will be determined with the help of the state fire investigator. Once the investigation is completed, law enforcement and the District Attorney will review the information to determine whether charges are appropriate.”

This is an ongoing investigation, and it will take time to determine the origin and cause of the fire, Dingfelder stated.