New Mexico wildfire prompts Boys Ranch evacuation

New Mexico wildfire prompts Boys Ranch evacuation

03 April 2011

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USA — A wind-driven wildfire that prompted the evacuation of 50 people from a New Mexico ranch for underprivileged children has grown to more than 1,000 acres, and a state forestry spokesman described it as “rip-roaring” Sunday.

Forestry spokesman Dan Ware said Sunday crews worked through the night, and a fire information officer, Vicky Fox, said they would remain on the lines overnight again.

Conditions Sunday afternoon were “blowing, smoky, dusty, very, very dry,” Fox said.

High winds, as well as critical-to-extreme fire weather conditions, were forecast Sunday in the area, which is more than 60 miles south of Albuquerque.

No structures have burned, Fox said.

The New Mexico Boys Ranch was evacuated Saturday afternoon, and authorities asked some residents in the area to voluntarily leave.

Ware did not know how many people voluntarily evacuated.

“Some homes were a little too close for comfort as far as the flames go,” he said.

The fire, dubbed the Sevilleta Fire, burned through heavy stands of salt cedar, cottonwood, brush and grass. It was spotted Saturday afternoon at Bernardo near the Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge.

The fire was burning back into areas that burned Saturday as crews worked to strengthen the lines around the flames.

Boys Ranch administrator Larry Couch told The Associated Press heavy smoke forced residents and staff to leave.

“They were getting a ton of black smoke,” said Ware, who said fire crews have burned out vegetation in an area from the ranch south along N.M. 304 to U.S. 60.

Most of the 25 ranch’s young people went home with their families or are staying with a counselor or at a motel. About 18 staff members and their children also evacuated from the ranch, located along the Rio Grande near Belen, about 60 miles south of Albuquerque.

The ranch provides housing, food, school and activities for children ages 10 to 18 who for whatever reason cannot or have trouble living at home.

A rapidly growing fire Sunday in the Ruidoso area of southern New Mexico prompted authorities to ask some people to leave their homes voluntarily. Winds in the area were blowing up to 44 mph.

The fire began Sunday afternoon on state and private land in Ruidoso’s Gavilan Canyon.

Law enforcement officers asked residents along the north side of U.S. 70 to evacuate as a precaution, but Ware did not know how many homes were affected.

The fire burned in the direction of Ruidoso Downs Racetrack, but no one had been asked to evacuate that area.

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