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South Fork Fire forces Ruidoso residents to evacuate


This story was updated with new information at 11 a.m. on June 18.

Two fires burning just east and south of Ruidoso forced the evacuation of about 8,000 people on June 17 as fire crews from around the state battle the blazes.  

The South Fork Fire, burning just east of Ruidoso and threatening to push into the village, and the Salt Fire, burning to the south, besieged the fire-prone area the week. The Salt Fire is smaller and further from population centers, but its proximity to one of the main roads into Ruidoso forced residents to flee eastward to Roswell.

Evacuees were told to head to an evacuation center at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, and those with livestock and RVs were told to head to the Eastern New Mexico state fairgrounds. It’s unclear how many, if any, civilians remain in the danger zone.

The South Fork Fire was discovered on June 17 around 9 a.m. on Mescalero Tribal land, US Forest Service land and within the areas surrounding Ruidoso. High winds whipped the fire into a blaze that, at last count on the morning of June 18, had grown to 13,921 acres with 0 percent containment. Around 500 structures have been affected. The cause of the fire remains unknown. 

“This is a full suppression fire, and all available resources are responding to help secure line and perform point protection for homes in and around Ruidoso,” the village said in a news release.

The Salt Fire was last reported as 4,876 with 0 percent containment. The fire is creeping through difficult, mountainous terrain south of Ruidoso, the village said. 

“The Complex Team will be arriving this afternoon to assume command of the fire. Weather conditions today are expected to be similar to yesterday's, with winds forecasted at 15-20 MPH and relative humidities in the single digits,” the village said in a statement. “Today, there will be massive air attacks, and dozer lines are being cut to help contain the fire.

The village said further updates would be available via the village’s website and Facebook page, as well as locally by tuning into 1490 AM.

fire, Ruidoso, South Fork fire, Salt Fire