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Watch: Two Wildfires Devastate Thousands Of Acres Forcing Mass Evacuations In New Mexico; One Dead

Southern New Mexico is facing two wildfires that have destroyed 1,400 structures and consumed over 20,000 acres. Firefighters are struggling to contain the blazes, which have been burning out of control since Monday.

New Mexico wildfire Photo: X

Southern New Mexico is facing two raging wildfires that have destroyed 1,400 structures, consumed over 20,000 acres. Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate authorities reported on Tuesday night. Firefighters are still struggling to contain the blazes, which have been burning out of control since Monday.

At least one person has died in the fires, according to Michael Coleman, communications director for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The South Fork fire, the larger of the two, was discovered around 9 am on Monday in the Mescalero Apache tribal area. It rapidly grew, exhibiting "extreme fire behavior," officials stated. This fire crossed from the Mescalero Apache Reservation onto U.S. Forest Service land and private property, destroying 1,400 structures and covering roughly 15,000 acres, the New Mexico State Forestry Division reported.

Another blaze, the Salt Fire, was discovered a few miles away on Monday afternoon. As of Tuesday, it remained confined to tribal land, burning in mostly inaccessible mountain terrain and covering nearly 5,000 acres.

Around 8,000 people were evacuated from the village of Ruidoso and surrounding areas by Tuesday evening, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division.

Both fires were at zero percent containment as of Tuesday evening, and authorities are investigating their causes. Wind and low humidity have significantly worsened the fires, as per New Mexico Fire Information, a collaborative website run by federal and state agencies.

Federal, tribal, state, and local departments are in an “all hands on deck” situation, said George Ducker, communications coordinator for the New Mexico Forestry Division. Fire crews are focusing on protecting structures and building fire lines to prevent further spread of the blazes.

Authorities have observed "long-range spotting," a phenomenon where embers carried by the wind ignite new fires. Mr. Ducker noted that flames were reaching heights "in the hundreds of feet," making containment efforts even more challenging.

People are moving east to Roswell after evacuation as many roads in other directions are closed due to the fires. The Red Cross has opened four shelter facilities in the state, assisting 270 residents as of Monday night.

Enrique Moreno, founder and director of Roswell Community Disaster Relief, said that many fleeing Ruidoso initially parked at gas stations, Walmart, and other retail parking lots around Roswell until shelters opened late Monday. Moreno's group, in collaboration with Pecos Valley Public Services, has been providing evacuees with food and other supplies.

“This has been the biggest disaster we’ve had to deal with,” Moreno said.

In response to the crisis, Governor Grisham declared a state of emergency in Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Reservation on Tuesday. This declaration authorizes the allocation of funding and resources to manage the situation, the governor announced on social media.