Containment progress reported in Ruidoso fires

Containment progress reported in Ruidoso fires

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The two major fires burning near Ruidoso, New Mexico, and the Mescalero Apache reservation have burned more than 24,000 acres but the New Mexico State Forestry Division is reporting progress in containing the fires.

The South Fork Fire is now 26 percent contained and the Salt Fire is 7 percent contained, according to the state Forestry Division in an update issued on Saturday morning, June 22.

While progress is being made, this is incident still remains in flux and presents danger for the public and firefighters, according to a news release sent out on Saturday.

Evacuation orders still remain in place, they added.

The South Fork Fire is estimated to have burned 16,614 acres, while the Salt Fire has burned 7,652 acres.

More than 1,100 firefighters are on the scene fighting the blaze, according to the state Forestry Division.

“While rains assisted with moderating fire activity, this incident is not over. Hazards exist across the South Fork and Salt fires. Downed powerlines, damaged water, sewer, and gas lines, localized flooding, fire weakened trees and other environmental hazards continue to pose risks to firefighters and the public. Extra precautions should be exercised along roads as emergency and fire vehicles, engines and equipment continue to travel and work along roadways. As such, evacuations and road and area closures will remain in effect. These will not be lifted until fire conditions are diminished, and hazards have been addressed,” according to a news release sent out by the Forestry Division.

Widespread rain helped keep the fire from spreading but also limited what firefighters were able to do on Friday, according to the news release.

“Conditions are expected to improve on Saturday, allowing crews to continue fire suppression efforts. Saturday, crews on the South Fork and Salt fires will resume constructing fireline in difficult terrain, patrol firelines, and monitor for hotspots near firelines. Residents should remember that while fire behavior has been reduced to smoldering and creeping in heavy duff and dead/down fuels with minimal spread, fire can and will still actively burn across the South Fork and Salt fires, especially with changing weather conditions. Smoke will persist and hazards are still present across the fire area, including fire-weakened trees along roadways and near critical infrastructure. In addition to firefighters continuing the work on securing the perimeter and responding to hot spots within the interior of the fire area, damage and structure assessments are being conducted. Crews will be available to respond to any new starts and flare ups as needed,” according to the New Mexico Forestry Division news release.

The NM Forestry Division reports the fires produced “light smoke” on Friday and smoke production will remain light to moderate on Saturday.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for areas near the fire. Evacuation information can be found at www.lincolncountynm.gov and www.ruidoso-nm.gov/south-fork-fire.

Contact the Lincoln County Emergency Operations Center at (575) 258-6900 if you have questions.

Road and trail closures are in effect throughout the fire area. Both Highway 48 and Highway 70 at Apache Summit are closed. The open evacuation route is Highway 70 to Roswell. State Highway 48 is closed from Alpine Village/University to State Hwy 220.

U.S. 70 remains closed from Mile Marker 249 (intersection with NM Highway 244), four miles east of Mescalero, to Mile Marker 258, 2 mile east of Carrizo.

Resources include 23 crews, 94 fire engines, 14 dozers and 18 water tenders. Helicopters and air tankers remain available for bucket and retardant drops if the need arises and when conditions allow, according to the NM Forestry Division.

A closure order was issued on Thursday, June 20 for national forest lands within the Smokey Bear Ranger District.

A temporary flight restriction is also in place over the fires. Drone flights are also prohibited within this area.

The American Red Cross is reporting that 645 people are staying at Red Cross and independently operated shelters affiliated with the Red Cross and that 114 local and national Red Cross workers are involved with helping out with the Ruidoso fires.

The Red Cross has also served 5,869 meals and snacks through Friday.

The Red Cross said that there are other shelters that are operating independently and their statistics do not reflect all shelters.

Anyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters and all disaster assistance is free, the organization says.

The Red Cross is asking that donations not be dropped off at Red Cross shelters. Instead, you can drop off donations at these locations.

Roswell

New Mexico National Guard Armory (1 West Earl Commings Loop)

Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

All items welcome

Albuquerque

Center of Southwest Culture

For details, call: (505) 247-2729

Mescalero

Inn of the Mountain Gods Convention Center (287 Carrizo Canyon Road)

Hours: 24/7

Items being collected: Anything and everything except clothing. Red Cross is also wants donations of snacks, food, water, Gatorade and Powerade.

Mescalero Apache Community Center (108 Central Ave.)

Hours: 24/7

Both Mescalero donation locations are seeking feminine hygiene products.

More information about the fires can be found by clicking here.

More information about Red Cross services can be found by clicking here.