New Mexico Village to Residents: 'GO NOW'

Wildfires approach Ruidoso like 'pair of tongs'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2024 2:35 PM CDT
Wildfires Approach NM Village Like 'Pair of Tongs'
Smoke from a wildfire rises over Ruidoso, Monday, June 17, 2024.   (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

"GO NOW: Do not attempt to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately," officials told residents of Ruisodo, New Mexico as wildfires approached the village of around 7,000 people Monday evening. CBS News reports that traffic clogged streets for hours on Monday, but Ruidoso's main street appeared empty on city webcams Tuesday morning. The evacuation order was issued as the South Fork Fire, discovered around 9am Monday on the Mescalero Reservation west of Ruidoso, exploded in size. It grew to more than 5,000 acres by 11:30pm, reports NBC News.

Ruidoso officials said in a post on X Tuesday morning that the South Fork Fire had grown to 13,921 acres and was 0% contained. The Salt Fire, burning on tribal land south of Ruidoso, had grown to 4,876 acres and was also 0% contained, officials said. New Mexico Forestry spokesperson George Ducker tells CNN that the fires are acting like "a pair of tongs, and Ruidoso is in the middle." The agency says the fires are threatening multiple structures and some have been lost.

Roswell, around 70 miles east of Ruidoso, has opened shelters for evacuees. The mandatory evacuation order was issued a little before 7pm Monday, KOB reports. "We were getting ready to sit down to a meal and the alert came on: Evacuate now, don't take anything or plan to pack anything, just evacuate," resident Mary Lou Minic tells the station. "And within three to five minutes, we were in the car, leaving." (More New Mexico stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.