Saturday, March 15, 2008

Large fires in southeast NM

The Las Cruces Sun-News has the story about some large fires in southeast NM.

Grass fire burns homes, forces evacuations in southeastern NM
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 03/15/2008 12:36:04 AM MDT

HOBBS, N.M.—Firefighters are bracing for another day of fierce wind as they battle a grass fire that has raced across thousands of acres in southeastern New Mexico, taking with it four homes and forcing residents to evacuate.

The blaze began Friday as two separate fires. The first fire was reported around 3 p.m., a second fire was spotted about an hour later and the flames soon merged. By nightfall, it was 2 miles wide and 20 miles long and had burned across the state line into Texas, said Dan Ware, a spokesman with the State Forestry Division.

"The grass and the brush is still extremely thick and so it keeps adding fuel to this fire," Ware said.

Firefighters were concerned about the rural community of Knowles, just west of the New Mexico-Texas line. They told residents scattered throughout the area to leave and they issued a voluntary evacuation for residents living north of Hobbs between N.M. 18 and N.M. 132. Ware could not say how many homes were in the area.

An evacuation center was set up at Hobbs High School.

More than 100 firefighters were battling the 25,600-acre fire, but gusting winds made the effort difficult, Ware said.

Winds ranging from 30 to 45 mph fed the flames Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service had issued a wind warning for the area but that expired late Friday and the wind speed dropped to under 30 mph overnight.

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