By Jennifer McRae

UPDATE: Monte Vista Community Reeling After Wind-Blown Fire Displaces 6 Families

MONTE VISTA, Colo. (CBS4)– Homes and businesses in Monte Vista were evacuated on Wednesday afternoon due to a large fire that damaged or destroyed several structures. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for all homes north of Highway 285 between Jefferson Street and North Henderson Road just after 2 p.m.

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Rio County tweeted an update to the evacuation order at 4:35 p.m. “If your house is east of Truman you are clear to enter your home.”

The fire charred around 17 acres. Crews are working on hotspots.

Shortly after 7 p.m., the San Luis Valley Emergency team said progression on the fire stopped, and the evacuation zone was reduced to fewer than 30 homes.

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Those needing emergency housing can head to the Church of the Nazarene at 228 Madison Street. Authorities say an emergency fund is also in the works for those who sustained damage or lost their properties.

According to the Alamosa News, more than 10 homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire. The American Red Cross will be available at the church.

(credit: Alamosa News)

Monte Vista is located in Rio Grande County about 218 miles southwest of Denver.

“Winds are still blowing fairly hard,” said Courtney Arthur, Rio Grande County public information officer. “We are allowing people east of Truman Avenue back into their homes. We’re moving in the right direction.”

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The fire is burning in the town and massive electrical outages are being reported. Law enforcement is asking that the public avoid the area.

“They had closed from Highway 285, east and are just trying to get it contained. We’re letting some people back into their homes,” said Arthur.

A helicopter is dropping water on the fire and fire crews are making good progress on the fire, according to a tweet from Costilla County Office of Emergency Management.

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Students at Marsh and Metz schools were being released early.

(credit: SLV Emergency)

Evacuees could find shelter at the Ski Hi Complex.

Several law enforcement and fire agencies are assisting in the firefight, including Monte Vista Fire, Del Norte Fire, Alamosa Police are on scene.

What caused the fire is being investigated. It was determined the fire started behind Absolute Shine in Monte Vista and was carried east along the main irrigation canal.

Jennifer McRae