8:38am UPDATE: The Little Bear Fire has now burned 42,995 acres and is still 60 percent contained, according to a report filed just minutes ago on www.inciweb.org.
The Little Bear Fire, ignited June 4 and still burning in the Lincoln National Forest north of Ruidoso, has become the most destructive fire for homeowners in New Mexico history, U.S. Forest Service public information officer Dave Shell told the Ruidoso News.
The previous record-holder, the Cerro Grande Fire, burned 235 homes in 2000, while so far the Little Bear Fire has destroyed 242 residences or commercial buildings and 12 outbuildings, the News said.
According to the most recent report from www.inciweb.org, the Little Bear Fire has burned 41,706 acres and was 60 percent contained.
That acreage figure could soon jump as burnout operations in the White Mountain Wilderness near completion, the Ruidoso News was reporting this morning.
All evacuated subdivisions are reopened, with the continued exceptions of Angus, Ski Run Road, Bonita Park and Bonita Lake, which are open for residents only, the News reported. Residents returning home are advised to watch for firefighters and damaged roads.
In southern and eastern areas surrounding the fire, mop-up operations will continue and crews will be working to repair terrain damaged by bulldozer lines, according to a Forest Service report.