Forest fire reported on Mescalero Apache Reservation Monday

Update at 8:20 p.m.

The South Fork Fire now spans Otero and Lincoln counties, is moving fast and an immediate evacuation has been ordered for the entire Village of Ruidoso, according to a news release.

An emergency Go evacuation was issued from Sudderth and Mechem to Freedom Bloom at Big O Tire, noted the release.

“Both (New Mexico) Highway 48 and (U.S.) Highway 70 at Apache Summit are closed, so the only route for evacuation is on Sudderth to Highway 70 and out to Roswell,” the release stated.

Evacuees should use U.S. 70 heading east towards Roswell.

U.S. 70 was closed with the intersection of New Mexico State Road 244, four miles east of Mescalero to nearly two miles east of Carrizo.

Longtime Ruidoso-area resident Tim Keithley was in the long line of vehicles leaving on Highway 48.

Around 7:10 p.m. Monday, he said Midtown Ruidoso “looks like a ghost town.”

Later, around 7:35 p.m., he added, “Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

An Emergency Operations Center is now operational. People can call 575-258-6900.

The New Mexico State Forestry Division said the fire was discovered around 9 a.m. Monday on Mescalero Apache Tribal Land along the Rio Ruidoso.

“Currently, the fire is being managed by Mescalero Apache Fire Rescue, but the fire will be transferred tomorrow to a Complex Incident Management Team. Air resources have been performing drops throughout the afternoon. Multiple resources are responding to the nearby neighborhoods to perform structure protection,” read a statement from State Forestry.

Firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs were fighting a fire Monday on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, according to Mescalero Apache Fire Rescue.

The South Fork Fire was reported around 11 a.m. on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation near the south fork of the Rio Ruidoso, near Mescalero Cabins and Upper Canyon, read a Facebook post from the fire agency.

Firefighters are in full suppression mode as the fire burned around 18 acres and was growing as of Monday afternoon.

Ground resources were pulled back due to increasing fire activity.

More: Wildfires in Lincoln National Forest near full containment

A large air tanker and three helicopters were on scene as another large air tanker and helicopter were ordered to help fight the blaze, according to the Mescalero Facebook post.

The Village of Ruidoso issued a “Go” status for the Upper Canyon and Brany Canyon, according to a Village Facebook post.

“Anyone in that area needs to evacuate immediately,” read the Facebook notice.

The Village noted that the backend of Cedar Creek was put on “Set” status.

“Anyone in that area needs to be prepared to evacuate if notified,” cited the social media post.

The Ruidoso Convention was open as a shelter for anyone that needs a temporary place to stay.

A quick look at Ready, Set, Go

Set up by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), per information from the New Mexico Forestry Division’s website.

“The Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) program helps residents be Ready with preparedness understanding, be Set with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to Go, acting early when a wildfire starts,” noted the website.

Go means people need to load up an emergency supply kit and evacuation bags into a vehicle and make a quick exit.

“Being ‘Ready’ for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space around your home. Clear dry brush and vegetation away from the outside of your home starting in the five-foot zone and working your way out to the 100 to 200-foot zone,” according to New Mexico Forestry.

More: Firefighters continue extinguishing the Blue 2 Fire near Ruidoso

Set means people should prepare themselves and their home for the possibility of evacuation before a wildfire arrives.

Weather forecast predicts rain

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasted hot temperatures for Tuesday with highs around 90.

The forecast should change midweek as increasing chances for rain and thunderstorms are forecast into the weekend with highs in the 70s and 80s.

Rain chances vary from 20% to 70%, per an NWS forecast.

Mitt Fire shows no threat

The lightning caused fire reported on June 12 in the Capitan Mountains exhibited low spreading potential as of Monday afternoon, according to a press release from the Lincoln National Forest.

Firefighters were using a confine and contain strategy of using natural barriers and the fire was 50% contained.

The fire was showing little-to-no growth and remained in an original single-tree snag, the press release noted.


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