RUIDOSO, N.M. (NEWSnet/AP) — Residents of a town in southern New Mexico were ordered to flee their homes Monday evening, without time to pack belongings, due to a fast-moving wildfire.

“GO NOW: Do not attempt to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” officials in Ruidoso, a community of about 7,000 people, said on its website and in social media posts at about 7 p.m. local time Monday.

 

Public Service Company of New Mexico shut off power to part of the village due to the fire, which was estimated at about 8.2 square miles with zero percent containment, the state Forestry Division said late Monday. The agency said multiple structures are under threat and a number have been lost. A portion of U.S. Highway 70 was closed south of the village.

“We were getting ready to sit down to a meal and the alert came on: Evacuate now, don’t take anything or plan to pack anything, just evacuate,” Mary Lou Minic told KOB-TV. “And within three to five minutes, we were in the car, leaving.”

The South Fork Fire started Monday on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, where the tribal president issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency. It was burning on tribal and U.S. Forest Service land within areas surrounding Ruidoso.

A second fire, called the Salt Fire, also was burning on the Mescalero reservation and southwest of Ruidoso. It was over 4.3 square miles as of Monday night with no containment, the forestry division said.

The Village of Ruidoso is about 75 miles west of Roswell, where several evacuation centers were set up.

An air quality alert was issued for very unhealthy air in Ruidoso and surrounding areas due to smoke.

Wildfires in California

 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is tracking multiple fires in California.

In Southern California, firefighters increased their containment of the Post Fire in mountains north of Los Angeles on Monday after a weekend of explosive, wind-driven growth along Interstate 5.

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