2 dead in New Mexico wildfire that forced evacuations and damaged homes

Apr 14, 2022, 1:13 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:16 pm
The McBride Fire burns Tuesday in the heart of the village of Ruidoso, New Mexico. (Ivan Pierre Agu...
The McBride Fire burns Tuesday in the heart of the village of Ruidoso, New Mexico. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/USA Today/Reuters)
(Ivan Pierre Aguirre/USA Today/Reuters)

(CNN) — Two people have died in the McBride Fire raging in southern New Mexico that has scorched more than 5,000 acres and forced evacuations in the Sierra Blanco mountain range, police said.

Police found their remains Wednesday in a home that burned a day earlier in Ruidoso, a village of more than 7,000 people roughly a 180-mile drive southeast of Albuquerque, state police said.

Firefighters had fought the flames at the home Tuesday afternoon, and that evening village police “received information about an elderly couple who attempted to evacuate the McBride Fire but were unaccounted for by family members,” state police said.

Police did not say whether the two people who died were the couple reported missing. The deaths are under investigation, and the state medical investigator’s office was working to identify the victims, state police said Wednesday.

The McBride Fire, which started Tuesday afternoon in Ruidoso, has burned 5,381 acres, had no containment and was spreading northeast as of Wednesday evening, according to the New Mexico Fire Information website, an interagency resource with information from federal and state agencies.

The flames have destroyed or damaged more than 200 structures, local officials said, and many Ruidoso-area residents have been told to evacuate.

One of those residents, Chris Barela, left with his wife Tuesday to stay with relatives in Las Cruces after the fire came within about 2 miles of their home, he told CNN affiliate KFOX.

“We got our go-bags and important papers, things like that, had them ready,” Barela said.

The McBride Fire is one of several wildfires that have raged in the state in recent days, fueled in part by strong winds and low humidity.

Five fires — the Hermit’s PeakMcBrideOverflowBig Hole and Nogal Canyon fires — have recently scorched more than 15,000 acres of land in New Mexico, according to InciWeb, a US clearinghouse for wildfire information.

Much of New Mexico’s eastern half Thursday was under red flag warnings, which the National Weather Service issues to indicate strong winds and other conditions will combine to create high risks of fire danger.

Ruidoso — with winds forecast to get up to 20 mph — was not in the warning area Thursday. Winds have calmed there since gusts over 60 mph hit on Tuesday, officials said.

The state has received federal fire management assistance grants that will provide resources for crews battling wildfires, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday.

“I want to assure the people of New Mexico that our local, state, federal and tribal agencies are working around the clock to make sure evacuees have the support they need as these unprecedented spring wildfires tear through our communities,” the governor said.

Evacuations are underway

The largest blaze, Hermit’s Peak — in rugged terrain some 30 miles east of Santa Fe — has scorched more than 7,000 acres and is 10% contained as of Thursday, officials said.

The fire grew aggressively on Tuesday, pushed by wind gusts of up to 70 mph, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said. Thursday afternoon may be breezy, but the storm system that brought the stronger winds has passed, according to the New Mexico Fire Information site.

The sheriff’s office said it issued evacuation orders Tuesday and put several areas on standby.

Meanwhile, the Overflow Fire was 100% contained as of Wednesday after charring 1,900 acres over the past week.

The Nogal Canyon Fire, west of Capitan, had burned about 350 acres after sparking Wednesday, and it was 4% contained, according to InciWeb. Residents in the area were placed under mandatory evacuations.

A drop in wind speed helped firefighters working to control the flames, officials said. “Crews are working in steep, rugged terrain, which fire is able to run through the extremely dry vegetation,” an update on InciWeb said.

As for the Big Hole Fire, which scorched more than 900 acres as of Wednesday, containment has reached 40%, according to the New Mexico Fire Information website.

“Extremely dry weather and strong winds kept firefighting aircraft grounded today preventing water drops over the fire area,” officials said about that fire Wednesday.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE: Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. Repu...
FATIMA HUSSEIN, Associated Press

Treasury making Trump taxes available to House committee

The Treasury Department says it has complied with a court order to make former President Donald Trump’s tax returns available to a congressional committee.
16 hours ago
A medical worker prepares to test a throat swab sample while conducting rapid antigen tests at a Co...
DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press

Holocaust survivors offered DNA tests to help find family

The New York-based Center for Jewish History is launching a project offering DNA testing kits for free to Holocaust survivors and their children. It's an effort to help possibly find family connections torn apart in World War II.
16 hours ago
Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac performs on stage at Madison Square Garden on October 6, 2014 in N...
Associated Press

Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter, dies at 79

Christine McVie, the soulful British musician who sang lead on many of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits, has died at 79.
16 hours ago
rail union picket...
KEVIN FREKING and JOSH FUNK Associated Press

House votes to avert rail strike, impose deal on unions

The U.S. House moved urgently to head off the looming nationwide rail strike on Wednesday, passing a bill that would bind companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached in September but rejected by some of the 12 unions involved.
16 hours ago
Firefighters and Riverside Police gather outside a burned home in Riverside, Calif., on Friday, Nov...
AMY TAXIN and STEFANIE DAZIO, Associated Press

Police: Deputy posed as teen online to lure California girl

Authorities are investigating whether a Virginia sheriff’s deputy posed as a 17-year-old boy online to groom and sexually extort a teenage girl in California before driving across country and killing her mother and grandparents and setting fire to their home.
16 hours ago
amazon logo...

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend was its biggest ever, aided by a record number of shoppers looking for deals amid high inflation.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
2 dead in New Mexico wildfire that forced evacuations and damaged homes