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At least 2 dead, 1,400 structures burned as New Mexico wildfires rapidly spread

The fast-moving wildfires have prompted the evacuation of an estimated 8,000 people from the popular resort village of Ruidoso, New Mexico.
New Mexico Wildfires
Posted at 10:13 AM, Jun 19, 2024

At least two people have died and hundreds of structures are destroyed as multiple wildfires in southern New Mexico continue to rage out of control.

A New Mexico State Police spokesperson said on Wednesday that a second person had been killed in the fires.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency on Tuesday afternoon, readying more resources to fight the fires in Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Gov. Lujan Grisham has also asked that the incident be federally declared a major disaster, which would increase the amount of government resources available to fight the fires.

"Our first responders are heroes, but they need more resources to combat this disaster and keep our people safe," said Gov. Lujan Grisham. "New Mexico has faced disaster before, but the scale of this emergency requires immediate federal intervention."

An official with the New Mexico State Forestry Division said the South Fork Fire and Salt Fire have ballooned to a combined size of more than 32 square miles and scorched some 1,400 buildings. Both fires were 0% contained as of Tuesday night.

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The fast-moving wildfires have prompted the evacuation of an estimated 8,000 people from the village of Ruidoso, New Mexico, which is located about 180 miles south of Albuquerque and is a popular tourist destination. The town offers hiking, biking and horseback riding, multiple resorts and year-round golf.

Forecasters said high temperatures and strong winds have continued to fuel the fires, making it difficult for crews to combat them from spreading further.

Gov. Lujan Grisham said the cause of the fires is unknown, adding that the priority is to get them under control.

"We can't get in to look at structures in the way that I think people expect us to," she told CNN. "Nor can we do that on-the-ground investigation with the intensity. It will take until we get our arms around the fire a little bit better."