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Wildfire in Costilla County burns across 4,000 acres, authorities say some structures lost

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Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 11:52:44-04

COSTILLA COUNTY — As the Spring Fire burned through south Colorado Wednesday evening, including multiple homes, the Costilla Board of County Commissioners declared it a disaster situation.

The Spring Fire, located east of Fort Garland, forced evacuation Wednesday night for residents in Wagon Creek. Forbes Park had already been evacuated around 7 p.m. Around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, officials with San Luis Valley Emergency said the fire was zero percent contained and hovered around 4,000 acres, having grown from the 2,000 acres reported at 6:30 a.m. The fire had also reached the Wagon Creek subdivision.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, Costilla County Sheriff's Office said some structures had been lost to the flames. Tony Moore with Forbes Park Wildland Fire Prevention District said multiple homes have burned. Costilla County Emergency Manager Chris Rodriguez said they don't know how many structures are home versus outbuildings because it is not safe for crews to get in the area to assess the damage.   

The roads leading into Forbes Park and Wagon Creek subdivisions are closed. No injuries have been reported. 

At an afternoon community meeting, fire and county officials spoke to concerned community members — some who said they believed their homes had already been lost.

"Until we get a significant change in the weather, we're going to be chasing it and not being able to fight it and get in front of it. We appreciate your patience," said one official. 

Pre-evacuation orders were sent for the area north and east of Trinchera Ranch Road, and south of Highway 160 in the Fort Garland area. Officials asked residents through Twitter to be prepared to evacuate at any given moment. 

Aircraft and a new fire crew were being ordered to the fire Wednesday afternoon and officials said they believed they would be among the top fire priorities in the country.

Sheriff's office officials stressed that their first priority was people's safety and the safety of firefighters.

"We don't want people to die. There are still people up there. We know that. We want to help people get out of the way," one official said.

I'm sorry for all of you that are going through this," said Rodriguez, the county emergency manager. He said the best resource for area residents is SLVemergency.org.

Officials said this fire was "not going to be a quick turnaround event" and said they would be doing daily briefings at 1 p.m. at the community center.

The Red Cross stated that it has an evacuation shelter set up at the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center, located at 17591 E. Highway 160 in Blanca.