Wildfire in New Mexico
USA: Wildfire in New Mexico
26 March 2002
RUIDOSO, N.MDropping winds and coolertemperatures helped firefighters contain five New Mexico wildfires Monday,including a blaze that destroyed 28 homes in a mountain neighborhood over theweekend. Winds more than 50 mph had pushed flames through subdivisions of mixedvacation and year-round homes near Ruidoso, N.M., about 190 miles southeast ofAlbuquerque. But the 800-acre Kokopelli fire was 60 percent contained Monday,said Tom Gorman, information officer for the state emergency operation.
A cold front with winds in the 10-15 mph range helped slowflames as fire crews using bulldozers cleared away brush and trees to createfirebreaks ahead of the blaze. “The high humidity and cooler temperatures(have) really helped what they’re trying to do, which is shut these firesdown,” Gorman said. As many as 1,300 people were evacuated over theweekend, and many were back on the scene Monday, picking through ashes andblackened foundations, all that remained of homes priced as much as $250,000.”Of the homes destroyed, 50 percent (of owners) were from out of state,mostly Texas,” Gorman said. Officials revised down an earlier report thatas many as 36 homes were destroyed. Damage is estimated at $5.2 million, Gormansaid. The blaze was believed to have been caused accidentally when a residentdumped hot ashes in his backyard. Four other fires continued to burn in thearea, the largest which started on the Mescalero Apache Indian reservation andso far burned up 16,000 acres, causing the evacuation of nearly 100 homes. Onevacant home was destroyed. New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson signed a state emergencydeclaration making the Ruidoso area eligible for aid.