New Mexico community evacuated as fire grows

06 June, 2018, 16:50 | Author: Sheila Harris
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A wildfire in northern New Mexico just keeps getting bigger.

So far, about 14 outbuildings have been destroyed at the Philmont Scout Ranch, according to the US Forest Service.

In addition to the 800+ homes or 1,500 people vacated, another 760 homes were told to be ready to leave on a moment's notice.

Rick Archuleta and his son saw the harrowing scene as they drove through the Ute Park Fire, which has torched over 16,000 acres since Thursday.

Lopez said precipitation expected from a storm Sunday was not expected to be enough to extinguish the fire before dry conditions return Monday.

A New Mexico Forestry spokesperson said firefighters put a dozer line around the Ute Park community to help protect it.

The community of Ute Park was under a mandatory evacuation order but is now under advisory evacuations as the fire no longer poses a threat.

Roughly a dozen unoccupied structures have burned down and hundreds more are being threatened. County fire chief David Sperling said fire crews had the fire controlled by 1 p.m. before turning it over to New Mexico State Forestry crews.

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"The Village of Cimarron is STILL safe", said Cimarron Village Councilor Laura Gonzales on Facebook. Evacuations were ordered with the fire getting dangerously close to a small town.

Officials said about one-third of the fire was contained as of Friday, but firefighters faced the challenge of having to stop the growth of the main fire while patrolling for spot fires.

The fire, named the Aliso Fire, grew to 200 acres in Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach's Top of the World neighborhood, according to Orange County officials. Its website says no participants are now at the ranch and that all staff is accounted for.Firefighting aircraft are using Eagle Nest Lake as a water source. "The conditions are extremely dry", she said.

The Red Cross continues to have a shelter open at the Eagle Nest Senior Center at 74 N. Tomboy Dr.

Smoke from the fire will reduce visibility to under a mile in places and create health hazards, especially for young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with respiratory illnesses.

Colfax County Manager Mary Lou Kearn spoke with Governor Susana Martinez Friday evening about support for the Ute Park Fire at the Whittington Center. "Given the dynamic situation, firefighters are focused on protecting values at risk and limiting the fire's spread where they can do so safely and effectively".

Thousands of residents in the area remained evacuated Sunday. The forecast for the fire area, which is at 7,000 to 8,000 feet, is about as bad as it can get - sustained 25 miles per hour southwest winds gusting between 31 and 36, temperature in the low 80s, and 6 percent relative humidity.

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