New Mexico village of Ruidoso orders residents to evacuate due to raging wildfire: “GO NOW”

Ruidoso, N.M. — Residents of a village in southern New Mexico were ordered to flee their homes Monday without even taking time to grab any belongings due to a fast-moving wildfire.

“GO NOW: Do not attempt to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” officials with Ruidoso, home to 7,000 people, said on its website and in social media posts at about 7 p.m.

Public Service Company of New Mexico shut off electricity to part of the village due to the fire, which had grown to at least 2 square miles at the time the evacuation was ordered, KOAT-TV reported. The utility said it cut power to some 2,000 homes and businesses but they should cleared out anyway.

CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE-TV reported that Ruidoso officials said there was hot ash from the fire falling in parts of the nearby community of Alto. People were being asked to call 911 if they saw any hot ash spots or active flames.

Wildfire in Ruidoso
Smoke rises from a wildfire in Ruidoso, New Mexico, on June 17, 2024, in this picture obtained from social media.

Pamela L. Bonner via Reuters

State Police in southern New Mexico said they were experiencing phone outages that might impact emergency responses to emergencies,

As of late Monday evening, the New Mexico Fire Information page said the blaze covered some 8.2 square miles and was zero percent contained. 

The glow from the fire could be seen Monday night from a webcam in the downtown area, where lights were still on.

The South Fork Fire started Monday on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

South Fork Fire near Ruidoso
Smoke plumes from the South Fork Fire rise above the tree line as the fire progresses from the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation to the Lincoln National Forest forcing mandatory evacuations in Ruidoso, New Mexico, on June 17, 2024.

Kaylee Greenlee Beal / REUTERS

The Village of Ruidoso is about 75 miles west of Roswell, where several evacuation centers were set up. Roswell officials said provisions were also being made for people with RVs and/or large animals and that Roswell hospitals were trying to accommodate as many patients as possible who were being moved out of the Ruidoso hospital.

An air quality alert was issued for very unhealthy air in Ruidoso and surrounding areas due to smoke.

The Washington Post notes that FEMA designated Ruidoso as a high-risk area in 2000 due to the thick forests surrounding it. The could serve as fuel for wildfires and lead to “catastrophic” damage, FEMA said.

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