Grass fire burns homes in southeastern NM

Grass fire burnshomes in southeastern NM

15 March 2008

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New Mexico, USA — A grass fire that burned seven homes and several otherbuildings in southeastern New Mexico has been 60 percent contained Saturday, asfirefighters raced to fully contain the blaze before stronger winds forecastSunday arrive.

The fire north of Hobbs grew to 75,000 acres due to more accurate mapping andspread across the Texas state line, said Dan Ware, a spokesman with the StateForestry Division.

Five of the homes were occupied and two were abandoned, Ware said. Anotherhome and several structures were damaged by the fire.

Residents who had been evacuated were allowed to return to their homesSaturday, Ware said. No injuries were reported.

“The head of the fire has been pretty much stopped,” Ware said.”They were able to catch it in Texas.”

More than 100 firefighters were putting out hot spots, getting rid of anyremaining fuels in the fire’s interior and reinforcing lines around the fire,Ware said.

Firefighters also were concentrating their efforts at the Knowles-area GoffDairy where two hay barns burned, Ware said.

Winds had died down somewhat Saturday, helping firefighters in their work,but were expected to pick up again Sunday, he said.

The blazebegan Friday afternoon as two separate fires, but the flames fannedby high winds soon merged. Firefighters are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Dozens of motorists in the area were stranded for hours Friday as smoke fromthe fire caused low visibility and closed area highways.

Firefighters concentrated on saving homes that were threatened, Hobbs PoliceDepartment acting Chief Sean Bates said.

“One of the reasons (the fire) has advanced is it is burning grassyareas while the firefighters are protecting homes,” Bates said.

Last month, another grass fire charred more than 10,500 acres west of Hobbsand threatened about 100 homes and businesses before being corralled byfirefighters.

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