RUIDOSO — Raging winds over 80 mph on Tuesday contributed to wildfires that spread rapidly in the Ruidoso area and led to thousands of people being given mandatory evacuation orders.
“We had trees coming down in town, roofs blowing off houses, this is definitely a wind-fueled fire,” said Lincoln National Forest spokesperson Laura Rabon.
The McBride Fire started Tuesday on Warrior Drive in Ruidoso, which is off of Gavilan Canyon Road.
The fire so far has burned 4,132 acres and is 0% contained.
About 150 structures, including some residences, have been destroyed.
A separate Nogal Canyon Fire burning northwest of Ruidoso has also led to evacuations. That fire, which was caused by a downed power line, has burned 400 acres and destroyed 10 structures.
Residents in the northeast part of the Ruidoso area have been given evacuation orders.
Kerry Gladden, a spokesperson for the Village of Ruidoso, said that about 4,000 people live in the areas that have been evacuated.
More evacuation orders could possibly be issued be today, she said.
Large pine trees were seen knocked over in town on Wednesday morning, and parts of Ruidoso remain without electricity and gas.
Rabon said that high winds — 70 mph sustained winds and 90 mph gusts on Tuesday — prevented aircraft from contributing to firefighting efforts on Tuesday. But one helicopter and multiple air tankers were assisting on Wednesday morning.
Flames could at times be seen above a ridge to the northwest of the Ruidoso Community Center. At least one air tanker was dropping fluid on the flames during a media briefing at the center on Wednesday morning.
The Ruidoso Convention Center is serving as an emergency shelter for residents who have been to told to evacuate.
No injuries have been reported, according to fire officials.
The fire’s cause is under investigation.
On Wednesday, the temperature was expected to reach a high of about 54 degrees, but the relative humidity is around 6%, Rabon said. Winds will likely continue blowing north to northwest at about 20 miles per hour with gusts reaching 30 miles per hour.
“We fully expect that today we will see active fire behavior as the day continues to warm up and as the relative humidity levels continue to drop,” Rabon said.
The areas currently under an evacuation order are around Moon Mountain, McBride/Snowcap/Timberline, Eagle Creek, Homestead Acres, Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates, Deer Valley, Deer Park and Alto East of Flute Player, according to fire officials.