RUIDOSO, NM (KTSM) – Exactly one week after the fast-moving McBride fire tore through Ruidoso and surrounding neighborhoods, crews are approaching total containment of the fire; even as their equipment has been vandalized.

First, the good news, crews shared that as their objectives continue to be met, the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 2 (SWAIMT2) will begin to transition the fire to a Type 4 Command structure on Thursday morning at 7:00 am. 

The SWAIMT2 will provide a final written update on Wednesday April 20th

Crews have begun to implement the suppression repair plan for the fire area. Officials share that fire suppression repair is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages and minimize potential soil erosion and impacts resulting from fire suppression activities.

“This work usually begins before the fire is contained and before the demobilization of an Incident Management Team. This work repairs the hand and dozer fire lines, roads, trails, staging areas, safety zones and drop points used during fire suppression effort…”

Southwest Area Incident Management Team 2

Students returned to classes Tuesday morning, with a special warning about that traffic, as well as the heavy presence of firefighters and utility company workers in the area.

Officials add that while the majority of the communities have been repopulated for a few days, they ask that people remain vigilant when driving in and around the fire area.

Officials also shared some unfortunate news, as multiple pieces of firefighter equipment located in and around the fire area has been vandalized.

According to fire officials, law enforcement is involved and an investigation is underway.

Officials also provided an update on the Nogal Canyon fire, now at 70% containment, with Minimal fire activity.

On Easter Sunday evening, a time when most families gather to pray and celebrate, the prayers of many were answered as fire officials announced that the McBride Fire was at 80% containment.

Crews were able to make quick work on Sunday, going from 50% to 80% containment in less than 12 hours.

Earlier Sunday, officials with the Type1Incident Team, together with the New Mexico State Police, the Village of Ruidoso, and Lincoln County announced they lifted all evacuation orders in the McBride Fire area.

The lifting of the evacuation orders came less than a day after crews announced that they gained the upper hand on both the McBride and Nogal Fires.

Residents were allowed to return at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

  • Gavilan Canyon from Warrior Drive south to HWY 70
  • Lower Eagle Creek

Officials asked all residents to continue to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid any downed power lines or damaged trees.

According to fire crews, Saturday was a significant day, as progress was made in the containment of the McBride fire. 

“Due to a focused effort on constructing line in areas close to previously evacuated zones, containment is at 56%. Evacuations have been lifted in all but two of the zones,” fire officials said.

In the Eagle Creek and Gavilan closure areas, fire crews are mopping up and identifying and removing hazard trees. They are working to cool burning stump-holes and other heat sources in a concentrated effort to prepare for lifting the remaining evacuations. 

Officials say that both the gas and power companies are working in the Gavilan area to ensure utilities are working before home owners can safely return.

Firefighters will work all along the fire perimeter with a focus of securing the rugged, western edge of the fire. They are locating heat sources and scouting to tie in pieces of fire line.

Due to diminishing winds, low fire activity is expected today. However, those in the surrounding area may see smoke as fire moves through unburned vegetation. These smokes are well within the interior of the fire and are not a threat to the fire line at this time.

As fire activity decreases, resources are being made available for initial attach in the surrounding area should a new fire occur.  Helicopters are available to assist ground crews for water drops to cool hot spots.

Evacuations: Two areas remain under evacuation – Gavilan Canyon from Warrior Drive south to Hwy 70 (Zone 9) and Lower Eagle Creek (Zone 6). Crews are removing hazard trees and extinguishing remaining heat sources in both areas.

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While the McBride Fire continued to burn Saturday, crews reached a major milestone in the battle against the blaze.

After working days on end, both the McBride and Nogal fires are now halfway contained thanks to the determination of the fire incident command and all the local fire fighters in Ruidoso. The McBride fire is now 56 percent contained and the Nogal fire is 52 percent contained.

The incident command team took over operations on April 14th, but did not let the local team in the village to go unnoticed. The team’s commander Dave Bales commended them on all their hard work and the job that they did to contain the fire.

Evacuations are now being lifted across the town with people able to return to their homes and power being restored as well.

Mop up operations are occurring throughout the fire area to locate and cool pockets of heat.   

Evacuations: The following evacuations have been lifted for Moon Mountain Area: High Loop, Lupin, Starlight, Old Lincoln, Nogal Place etc. East of Hull: McBride, Snowcap, Timberline, Fawn Ridge etc. Evacuations remain in place for the following: Gavilan Canyon: From Highway 70 to Lower Eagle Creek; Homestead Acres/Lower Eagle Creek; Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates, Deer Valley, Deer Park, and Alto East of Flute Player.

New Mexico State Police announced further evacuation notices had been lifted for:

Evacuation orders are being lifted in the following neighborhoods of the McBride Fire area:• Gavilan Canyon from Warrior Drive north to HWY 48 • Fawn Ridge• Homestead Acres• Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates• Deer Valley• Deer Park • Alto Mesa Estates • Deer Creek Road, Cougar Lane, Woodwind Lane, Skyhawk Lane• Area east of Flute Player Way.

These following areas remain under mandatory evacuation along including: • Gavilan Canyon from Warrior Drive south to HWY 70• Lower Eagle Creek

Officials add that the Ruidoso Convention Center remains open, and the Red Cross and Salvation Army are on scene to provide hot meals, water, and support to evacuees. T-Mobile is also offering free mobile phones.

According to fire officials, Friday’s warm weather and high winds tested control lines along the perimeter. Firefighters will continue to build and improve fire perimeter lines. Patrols are checking the fire’s edge for hotspots and any blowing embers.

Day four of the McBride Fire arrived with crews continuing to battle the stubborn blaze.

According to officials, on Friday, the fire was active within the fire’s perimeter near Ruidoso Middle School. Unburned pockets of ponderosa pine were ignited, putting up lots of black smoke.

Crews and helicopters worked together to keep the fire within control lines.

A Virtual Public Meeting will be held Saturday at 6pm on Facebook. Questions can be submitted in advance by email or through Facebook messaging

Firefighters focused on the priority of seeking out and mopping up hotspots to remove potential threats to homes along the Gavilan corridor and other areas with values at risk, such as the Homestead Loop further north.

Bulldozers and ground crews continued to work on the northern edge in the rugged, tough country in the Eagle Creek area.

On the east side where the fire is burning in old fire scars, crews are scouting for potential control lines, such as old two track roads that dozers can clean up.

Officials say Thursday’s favorable weather allowed coordinated operations between helicopters with bucket drops and ground crews on the McBride Fire. This enabled firefighters to focus on extinguishing specific areas of heat and secure extensive fire line.

Local crews that worked on the first days of initial attack were released and replaced with fresh crews working under the Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team 2 which took command of the fire Thursday morning.

Officials say the other large fire, the Nogal Canyon Fire is at 4% containment, with 6 primary and 8 outbuildings lost. Officials add the fire just over 400 acres in size.

With Friday’s warmer weather, gusty winds up to 35 mph and a Red Flag Warning – officials expect increased fire activity, especially in the afternoon as fuels warm up.

Good progress was made yesterday towards the goal of lifting  closures and allowing homeowners back in to the area as soon as safely possible.

Ground crews and engines will continue to patrol, extinguish hotspots, and secure the perimeter around  homes and other values at risk. Additionally, crews will be scouting, constructing and maintaining direct and indirect line  to secure the outer fire edges to minimize spread. 

Lincoln County Mercantile is offering to help owners of animals that are being housed at the Capitan Fairgrounds, due to evacuations.

As day three dawned over Ruidoso, crews went on the offensive against the as-of-yet uncontained McBride Fire.

While fire crews continued to battle the fire, utility crews were able to restore power to another few hundred customers, including the Walmart. Officials said they expected to restore power to the Albertsons as well by day’s end.

In total, utility officials estimate there are 4800 customers left without power, with 60 linemen working to restore the power.

Officials added that their crews continue patrolling by foot and vehicle, where possible, repairing and replacing damage done by the extreme high 75-90MPH winds on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Ruidoso, community members and one food retailer came together, thanks to a BBQ. Albertsons Market decided to feed community members and foster a feeling of togetherness in the shadow of the fire.

Some residents are now coming to grips with the aftermath of the fire, some losing their home and others losing a beloved pet; all looking to heal and rebuild.

RELATED STORIES:

McBride fire burns resident, destroys home, dogs run away

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Map courtesy Southwest Area Type 1 Team 2

The Southwest Area Type 1 Team 2 assumed management of the fire at 6 a.m. this morning.

According to officials, engine crews working in the southwest area of the fire near the point of origin will focus on hotspots to prevent further damage to private property. Along the northwest edge of the fire, crews will go direct, constructing handline to prevent fire spread to additional homes in the area.

On the east side of Gavilan Canyon, in addition to structural protection, a hot shot crew will work to suppress fire and control fire progression. Crews and dozers will focus on constructing line along open edges of the fire to prevent fire from spreading south of Gavilan and keep it from progressing to Paradise Canyon. 

Officials say the fire continues to spread to the northeast and fire activity is expected to increase this afternoon due to increasingly gusty winds. The fire is currently moving down Eagle Ridge, behind Kokopelli and Outlaw. Elk Valley, south of the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport is northeast of the fire.

On Wednesday, firefighters focused on structural point protection in the multiple subdivisions affected by the fire. Crews also worked to build handline and dozer lines to keep the fire from spreading to Paradise Canyon and Meander.

Seven air tankers and two helicopters assisted with slurry and water drops to slow fire progression.

Heavy winds Wednesday afternoon caused a spot fire to cross Gavilan Road which forced additional evacuations in Gavilan Canyon.

Thursday Evacuation and outage information:

Moon Mountain Area: High Loop, Lupin, Starlight etc.; Gavilan Canyon: From Highway 70 to Lower Eagle Creek; East of Hull: McBride, Snowcap, Timberline, Fawn Ridge etc. Homestead Acres/Lower Eagle Creek; Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates, Deer Valley, Deer Park, and Alto East of Flute Player.

The Ruidoso Convention Center is open to evacuees, and more evacuations are possible. Officials warn everyone to stay out of the fire area to allow crews safe access the fire.

Parts of the Village remain without electricity and gas. PNM, Otero Electric and Zia Natural Gas are working to restore power.

Closures are in place at Gavilan Canyon from Meander to Highway 48 and Warrior Drive from Hull to Gavilan Canyon. Hull Road remains open but roads east of Hull from Warrior to Lower Eagle Creek like Snowcap, McBride, Timberline etc. remain closed. Road closures are being adjusted based on fire activity. 

RELATED STORY: How to support Ruidoso residents, first responders affected by wildfires

As for donations, officials had the following information:

– At this time donations are no longer being accepted at Village Hall located at 313 Cree Meadows Dr., Ruidoso, NM 88345 because they have reached capacity.

– If you are in need of blankets, nonperishables, clothing, kid stuff, etc. or would like to donate items please drop them off at 122 Carrizo Canyon Rd, Ruidoso, NM 88345. They will be handing out and accepting donations from 8 a.m -5 p.m. through Sunday.

– Donations of Bedding, Clothes, Diapers, etc. please call Lisa Morales with River Crossing Ministries to coordinate delivery 575-808-1515.

Please DO NOT take items to the Ruidoso High School, the Ruidoso Convention Center or the Ruidoso Fire Station #1.

***

As crews continued to battle the now two-day old McBride Fire, New Mexico State Police (NMSP) announced the deaths of an elderly couple as a result of the fast-moving blaze.

According to a release from NMSP, on Tuesday April 12, at about 2:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a structure fire along the 500 block of Gavilan Canyon Road in Ruidoso..

Later that evening, Ruidoso Police Department (RPD) received information about an elderly couple who attempted to evacuate the McBride Fire but were unaccounted for by family members.

On April 13, 2022, RPD detectives and the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau, working together with the Bonita Volunteer Fire Department, located the remains of two at the Gavilan Canyon Road residence.

This is an active and ongoing investigation led by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau with the assistance of the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Village of Ruidoso, and the United States Forest Service.

NMSP are currently working with the Office of Medical Investigator (OMI) to positively identify the victims and determine the cause and manner of death.

NMSP will release the identity of the deceased when identification has been made by OMI, and until next-of-kin has been properly notified.

As of 9 p.m., officials say the fire was still 0% contained, with the total size of the fire just over 5100 acres. PNM officials said their crews restored power to another 3000 customers, leaving approximately 7100 still left without power.

***

The wind-driven fire that started Tuesday afternoon, jumped containment lines Wednesday afternoon, forcing further emergency evacuations.

During the 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon briefing, officials delivered the bad news that the fire has jumped fire lines above the Village of Ruidoso, along Gavilan Canyon Road behind the McDonald’s.

As a result, an emergency evacuation order was issued, with residents in that area ordered to leave their homes immediately.

As of Wednesday morning, officials say the fire has consumed 150 plus properties and forced evacuations in the surrounding area.

After winds died down on Wednesday, the battle against the fire was joined by air units, with a total of eight assigned to the fire. Officials say the task force includes two ‘Very Large Airtankers’ as well as five Large Airtankers and one helicopter. (Video below courtesy McBride Fire 2022)

However, by the afternoon, winds prevented any of the tankers to continue air drops against the blaze

Officials also confirmed that 18,000 residents were without power at the height of the outage yesterday; now almost 9,500 are still without power. Utility officials are hoping to restore power to 4-5k customers by 10 p.m.

According to officials, the majority of power outages caused by wind, not fire; as multiple trees into fell into lines, snapping the power lines.

Wednesday afternoon, officials with the Lincoln County Medical Center issued the following statement:

Due to the concern over smoke, we are currently transferring our inpatient Med/Surg and ICU patients to other facilities.  Additionally, we are limiting our outpatient services including radiology, laboratory and cardiopulmonary services to urgent needs.  We also will not be operating our Ruidoso Medical Clinic today.  We do anticipate these services will be available tomorrow.

We continue to operate our Emergency Department and Obstetrical Department to meet any emergent needs.

Lincoln County Medical Center

According to the Village of Ruidoso Facebook page, the fire started near McBride Drive, and is now named the McBride Fire.

As of Wednesday morning, parts of the Village remain without electricity and gas. Officials say PNM, Otero Electric and Zia Natural Gas are working to restore power. There is no estimated time for power to be restored.

Officials shared the following, regarding the battle against the fire:

Crews are working on multiple fronts on point protection and to secure structures. Crews in the Moon Mountain area were able to hold the ridge south of Gavilan and north of Paradise Canyon with a dozer line to keep it from progressing into Paradise Canyon and Meander.

In the area of Homestead, Gavilan Canyon and Fawn Ridge, crews are working point protection and securing structures and working to connect and construct fire line to control fire progress. In the lower Eagle Creek area, fire impacted multiple structures in the area and crews are working on point protection. Eagle Ridge is the furthest point the fire has reached.

The fire continues to spread to the northeast. Air tactical support was not able to fly on Tuesday due to extreme 60+ mph winds. Air tankers are available will be used when and where possible. Fire activity is expected to increase this afternoon as temperatures and winds increase.

McBride Fire officials

On Tuesday, April 12, shortly after noon, the McBride fire broke out in the Village of Ruidoso. The origin of the fire was near Warrior Drive and Hull Road. Officials say a number of structures were lost in the area of McBride, Gavilan Canyon, Fawn Ridge, Homestead Acres, and Lower Eagle Creek.

Crews were able to knock back the fire near the Ruidoso Middle School and evacuate 1,700+ students in an hour and a half from Ruidoso High School, Ruidoso Middle School and Elementary Schools to the Ruidoso Convention Center.

Officials say mandatory evacuations are in place for the following areas:

  • Moon Mountain Area: High Loop, Lupin, Starlight etc.
  • Gavilan Canyon: From Meander to Lower Eagle Creek.
  • East of Hull: McBride, Snowcap, Timberline, Fawn Ridge etc.
  • Homestead Acres/Lower Eagle Creek
  • Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates, Deer Valley, Deer Park, and Alto East of Flute Player

Residents are all evacuating to the Ruidoso Convention Center; officials add that more evacuations are possible.

Officials add that the Ruidoso Convention Center is open and the Red Cross is on site to assist those who have evacuated. The Lincoln County Fairgrounds are currently full, but the Roswell Animal Shelter and Otero Fairgrounds are open for those who need to evacuate with livestock.

A State of Emergency has been declared for the Village. For those looking to make donations or volunteer in some capacity please call 575-258-6900.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Officials shared the following, regarding donations:

We would like to inform anyone and everyone who wishes to make donations to the fire victims and personnel: Donations may be taken to Village Hall or the High School in Ruidoso. Officials are advising NOT to bring clothing items to these locations.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Dept.

For donations, interested parties can donate to one of the areas below:

In addition to the fire, officials say a power outage has caused issues with water distribution in the area. . Residents are being asked to conserve water, as some may experience a loss of pressure or complete water outage.

Earlier Tuesday, officials with the Lincoln National Forest moved their fire rating from a Moderate to High Fire Danger Rating.

Officials are asking residents to stay out of the fire area to allow crews to quickly access the fire.

Trees and power lines remain down in much of the Village; officials also are asking residents to be on the lookout for animals that have been released or escaped.

Officials say there are now four working fires in the area.

In addition to the McBride fire, officials say 2nd is Nogal fire. Below is the most recent update:

Capitan, NM April 13, 2022, 5:35pm.

The Nogal Canyon Fire, located west of Capitan, New Mexico, remains at an estimated 400 acres. A drop is wind speed is helping firefighters work on containing the fire. Crews are working in steep, rugged terrain, which fire is able to run through the extremely dry vegetation. Firefighting crews are concentrating on Point Protection (structure).  They will begin to construct check lines in the lower areas of the canyon.

Resources include 5 engines, which includes two new engines that will be on night operations. There are 85 personnel committed to the fire.  One water tender will soon be on scene. A seven-person module from Cibola has arrived. Their objectives are to map the fire and gather intelligence.

The mandatory evacuation remains in effect. For their safety, residents are asked to respect this notice. As soon as it is safe to re-enter the fire area, updates will be posted.

US Forest Service

The 3rd is the Hondo Fire -between Ruidoso and Roswell – and the 4th is in Bent (NM) Fire on Mescalero land, and is contained.

As this is a developing story, look for updates here on KTSM.com and in our later newscasts.

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