January 30, 2023

Wildfires raged in the west, destroying homes and forcing thousands to flee

Douglas Sidney’s mother was one of those who wore clothes on her back when a deadly, wind-fueled wildfire spread in a mountain community in southern New Mexico.

The RV park where he lived was reduced to “metal frame rails and steel wheels”, said Sidneys, who managed the site.

“I have 10 people displaced. They lost their homes and everything, including my mother,” he said.

More than 200 homes have been destroyed and two killed since an explosion on Tuesday near the village of Ruidoso, a holiday destination that attracts thousands of tourists and horse racing fans every summer.

West wildfire
On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, a fire broke out in a mountainous area in the village of Ruidoso, NM. Authorities say wildfires have engulfed about 150 buildings, including homes, in the New Mexico city of Ruidoso. (Alexander Meditus via AB)

Alexander Meditz / AB

There are hundreds of houses and summer rooms in the surrounding hills. The RV park, managed by Sidneys, is near the spot where an elderly couple lay dead outside their burned-out apartment this week.

Elsewhere in the United States, workers are battling massive fires this week in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, where a new flame on Friday forced evacuations near Lyons, 18 miles north of Boulder on the eastern faade of Rocky Mountains.

The fire was burning in the Blue Mountains near the Larimer-Boulder County Line, 20 miles southeast of Estes Park, the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

In New Mexico, some evacuation orders were revoked late Friday, and 60% of the 4,500 people ordered to leave their homes since the fire broke out on Tuesday, Ruido’s spokeswoman Kerry Clayton told the Associated Press on Saturday. It was previously reported that the discharge estimates were about 5,000.

“The big story is, we’re back in the demographic system,” Clayton told a news conference earlier.

Officials said those eviction orders in effect could be revoked in the coming days.

Donations have been pouring in from surrounding communities who are well aware of how devastating wildfires can be.

A decade ago, a fire broke out in an area of ​​the village of Ruidoso that took place on the map with the most devastating wildfire in New Mexico history, burning more than 240 homes and burning nearly 70 square miles of forest. Lightning-spark.

On Friday, Mayor Lynn Crawford once again rallied heartbroken residents as firefighters tried to prevent wind-blown flames from running back into the village. He said the neighbor’s response was surprising.

“So we have a lot of food, we have a lot of clothes, there are things like that, but we still appreciate it, we like your prayers and your thoughts,” the mayor said during a conference. “Again, our hearts go out to the families of those who died and those who lost their homes.”

Authorities have not yet released the names of the dead couple. Concerned family members contacted police after their bodies were found, and the couple had planned to leave when the fire broke out on Tuesday, but that day was not taken into account.

This photo, provided by the village of Ruidoso, shows an air tanker throwing fire extinguisher on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, across the mountains near the village of Ruidoso, NM. Authorities say the wildfire burned about 150 structures, including homes. Ruidoso, New Mexico City. (Via Kerry Gladden / Ruidoso Village AP)

Kerry Clayton / AB

Many elderly residents call Ruidoso home year-round, expanding their population to about 25,000 during the summer months as Texans and New Mexicans seek rest from the warmer climates.

Fans also flocked to Ruidoso Towns, one of the sport’s richest horse-races. The racing season is expected to begin on May 27, and there is no danger to horses riding there as firefighters use the facility on stage.

Part-time residents have been going on social media for the past few days, begging firefighters for updates on some of the neighborhoods, believing their family rooms were not among the damaged or destroyed.

Hotlines were set on fire on Friday afternoon as people in the village were called to report heavy smoke. Fire Information Officer Mike Defries said there were explosions inside the fire as pockets of unburned fuel were found inside the fire.

Although the fire did not take any toll on the lines installed by the personnel, he said it was still a difficult day for firefighters due to the single digit humidity, hot temperatures and wind.

Officials reiterated that it was too late to start allowing people to see the damage. They listened patiently as firefighters extinguished the hotspots and tried to build a strong perimeter around the fire.

“It’s still an active island area, and it’s not a safe place,” Defray said. “It takes patience. At the same time, every step we take is designed to put out this fire and get people home quickly.”

New Mexico authorities suspect a fire that burned 9.5 square miles (24 square kilometers) of forest and grass was suspected to have been triggered by a fallen power line, the investigation continued Friday.

Fire scientists say hot and dry weather and decades of firefighting have contributed to an increase in the number of acres burned by wildfires. Studies related to man-made climate change for more than 20 years have exacerbated the problem of the Western Hemisphere.