TIMBERON – Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency Friday in response to the Timberon wildfire that has scorched more than 260 acres in Otero County and destroyed 67 structures – including an estimated 30 homes – and numerous vehicles.
The declaration of a state of emergency enables the county to order and pay for additional resources to deal with this emergency.
“First responders continue to work around the clock to keep the fire at bay and keep the people of Timberon safe,” Martinez said in a statement. “At the state level, we’ve activated our Emergency Operations Center, made available all state resources, and requested federal assistance. And now … we can help the county secure funding to pay for additional resources.”
A Pecos Zone Type III Team assumed command of the Timberon Fire on Friday and reported that it was 14 percent contained, according for the New Mexico Fire Information website, nmfireinfo.com.
Containment lines were holding, and no changes to the fire’s size or activity were reported. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity were helping firefighters with suppression efforts, according to the website.
An update provided by fire incident commanders says that approximately 30 vehicles were destroyed or damaged, including 14 recreational vehicles.
Crews are constructing and improving fire lines and removing debris and dangerous trees in the burn area, which is about 25 miles southeast of Alamogordo.
“I don’t know what sparked the fire, but whatever it did, it’s a horrible situation,” Otero County Commissioner Ronny Rardin told the Alamogordo Daily News. “I’m praying for them and the firefighters that they can help those people up there, and we’re here to support them with whatever we can. We just feel helpless; you just don’t know what to do in these kinds of situations.”
The fire started Wednesday, and its cause is under investigation. No major injuries have been reported.
Fire management team spokeswoman Beth Mitchell said that crews have a line around the fire but that it hasn’t been widened and strengthened enough to deem full containment. Approximately 160 personnel from as many as 16 fire agencies were on scene.
Previously, fire officials said that exploding propane tanks were preventing firefighters from confirming the total number of structures lost. Power lines were also down in the area.
Otero County emergency officials continue to encourage evacuations. The evacuation center is the Cloudcroft High School. The Red Cross is managing the evacuation center, according to the website.
Martinez flew over the area Thursday and Friday, and was scheduled to attend a community meeting Friday evening at the Timberon Volunteer Fire Department.