New Mexico village of Ruidoso orders residents to evacuate due to raging wildfire: ‘LEAVE NOW’

Residents of the southern New Mexico village of Ruidoso were ordered to flee their homes Monday, without even taking the time to collect their belongings, due to a rapidly spreading wildfire.

“LEAVE NOW: Do not attempt to gather your belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” officials in Ruidoso, where 7,000 people live, said on its website and in social media posts around 7 p.m. .

The New Mexico Public Utility Company shut off power to part of the village due to the fire, which spanned at least 1,280 acres at the time the evacuation was ordered, KOAT reported- TV. The utility said it cut power to some 2,000 homes and businesses.

CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE-TV reported that Ruidoso officials said hot ash from the fire was falling in parts of the nearby community of Alto. People were asked to call 911 if they saw hot ash spots or active flames.

Smoke billows from a wildfire in Ruidoso, New Mexico, June 17, 2024, in this photo obtained from social media.

Pamela L. Bonner via Reuters


State Police in southern New Mexico said they are experiencing phone outages that could impact emergency responses.

As of Tuesday morning, officials said the fire covered 13,921 acres and was zero percent contained. Several structures are threatened and a number have been lost, officials said. Part of US Highway 70 was closed south of the village.

The glow of the fire was visible Monday evening from a webcam in the city center, where the lights were still on.

The South Fork Fire started Monday on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, where the tribal chairman issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency. It was burning on tribal and U.S. Forest Service lands in areas surrounding Ruidoso.

A second fire, the Salt Fire, was also burning on the Mescalero Reservation and southwest of Ruidoso. It stood at 4,876 acres as of Tuesday morning without containment, officials said.

Smoke plumes from the South Fork Fire rise above the tree line as the fire advances from the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation to the Lincoln National Forest, forcing mandatory evacuations in Ruidoso, New -Mexico, June 17, 2024.

Reuters/Kaylee Greenlee Beal


The village of Ruidoso is about 75 miles west of Roswell, where several evacuation centers have been set up. Roswell officials said provisions were also being made for people transporting recreational vehicles or large animals and that Roswell hospitals were trying to accommodate as many patients as possible who were being transferred out of the Ruidoso hospital.

An air quality alert has been issued for very unhealthy air in and around Ruidoso due to smoke.

The Washington Post notes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency designated Ruidoso a high-risk area in 2000 because of the thick forests surrounding it. They could fuel wildfires and cause “catastrophic” damage, FEMA said.

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