Scott Able Fire
Day 2 – May 12, 2000

May 12, 2000 — Cloudcroft.Com Special Report

12:05 am MDT 05/12/00 — The fire is burning toward the end of the timberline and in a very sparcely populated area. Let us hope it doesn’t change directions or hurt anyone.

12:20 am MDT — The small mountain community of Miller Flat is being evacuated by the National Forest Service at this time. According to the NFS, “The fire is creating its own weather patterns”, meaning it is hard to predict wind velocities and directions. Wind near the fire has been clocked at 70 mph. The NFS is unable to estimate property damage since their main objective at this time is containment. Over 8,000 acres have been consumed in the past 8 hours, making this fire a bigger one in terms of density than either the one in Los Alamos or the one near Ruidoso. This remains a very dangerous blaze to any areas within several miles of its hot spots. Residents are advised to be prepared to leave the area if notified. Cloudcroft.Com will continue to update conditions during the night.

1:00 am MDT — Wind direction ENE. Velocity near hot spots still about 70 mph. Still no indication of the origin of this fire or how much structural damage it has caused. No new evacuations have been ordered since the one announced for Miller Flat about a half hour ago.

6:15 am MDT — The National Weather Service is waiting for sunlight to make their assessment of the fire that started yesterday afternoon near Weed. While they say there likely has been some structural damages, they are unwilling at this time to say how extensive. No injuries have been reported. An estimated 200 firefighters are working the blaze with several fresh crews expected today. Areas around Weed, Perk Canyon, and Sacramento were evacuated last night with emergency shelter provided at Cloudcroft High School. No news as to when those evacuees will be allowed to return home. More as it becomes available on

7:05 am MDT — An evaluation team was dispatched after sunrise this morning from Mayhill to establish the movement and extent of the blaze that started yesterday afternoon near Weed. Evacuees from Weed, Sacramento, Chippaway, and Perk Canyon have not been cleared to return to their homes. A full report is expected at around 8 am MDT.

8:05 am MDT — Fire fighting officials engaging the Cloudcroft area fire are using the Cloudcroft Ski area as a staging point. The evaluation team sent out to assess the fire this morning is due back with a report within the half hour. Cloudcroft.Com apologizes for the lack of information this morning. Obviously the fire burns on. We are forced to rely on information sources at the National Forest Service and the Otero County Sherrif’s office. Both agencies have been slow in responding to our requests for updated information.

9:38 am MDT — Hwy 24 is closed from NM130 to Pinion. All roads South of Sunspot going East are closed except the road to Timberon. Still no official report on acres involved or property damage. No injuries have been reported.

10:08 am MDT — Over 20,000 acres have burned in a fire that started at a 4-H camp near Weed yesterday afternoon. The National Forest Service said the Village of Cloudcroft and the Village of Timberon are in no immediate danger. Forest Service said there was little in the way of fire fighting efforts yesterday. Emergency crews were concentrating on evacuating the affected areas. Some tanker planes were used yesterday but none are in the air today due to high winds.

The communities evacuated to Cloudcroft High School were Sacramento, Weed, Perk, Wills, Camp Mary White, McDonald Flats, Miller Flats, Tall Pines camp, and all ranches in the affected area.
Residents of Lower Cox Canyon (between the Baptist Camp and Mayhill on NM-130) are on evacuation alert, meaning they have been told to stand by if the need arises for them to evacuate. Elements of the National Guard are in the area to protect evacuated property from looting.

The fire remains out of control. Its path indicates it may possibly run out of the timberline and into brush land, but that is based on its latest path. Unconfirmed sources say the fire may have begun due to high winds breaking a high voltage line.

12:08 pm MDT — No new information on the size of the fire since our account of 20,000 acres 2 hours ago. That figure has obviously grown larger since the fire remains out of control. Add to the list of evacuated areas: Crydenbring Canyon and Hay Canyon. None of the earlier evacuees have been allowed back in. Four structures are said to have been destroyed. It is not known whether these are out buildings or homes. There is an unconfirmed report that residences were either damaged or destroyed in Sacramento.

1:35 pm MDT — No new information on the fire location from the National Forest Service. Also they claim the amount of ground burned has not changed in the past 3 hours, which is impossible since they admit the fire is still burning out of control. The NFS is showing little interest in keeping the public properly informed. The Otero County Sherrif’s Office refers all calls to the National Forest Service. Your basic government run-around. Would go to the scene myself, but they have the roads blocked. Sorry for the inconvenience to Cloudcroft.Com’s readers. Will try and get more info for you next hour.

2:15 pm MDT — Heather Murrell of Wayland Canyon reports the following to us:

“Sorry to send info to this address but I don’t see any other to send to. The buildings in the mouth of Wayland Canyon have all burned but the one belonging to my family. This would be at least 7 homes, plus the homes behind those down in the Canyon. — This is a very sad day.”

3:00 pm MDT — A good topographic map of the area can be seen here.

3:05 pm MDT — Five tankers have been engaged to fight the Cloudcroft fire (known as the Scott Able Fire). A spokesman for the Forest Service (Alamogordo office) indicated weather conditions have improved greatly for fighting the blaze and it is not threatening any new areas. While it still has not been brought under control, it has become “stable” and fire fighters are making progress.

20 structures are said to have been destroyed. Our source was unable to indicate how many of these were homes, but at least one other source said they knew of at least 7 homes burned.

None of those evacuated have been able to return home. The Forest Service has not been able to organize a press pool to see the fire because of the danger of being in close proximity.

4:35 pm MDT — Tamer winds, higher humidity, and lower temperatures are aiding firefighters in getting control of the Scott Able fire. 12 crews, 9 engines, 4 dozers, and 9 air tankers are helping to battle the blaze. Still a way to go before the fire can be declared under control.

7:30 pm MDT — We have some photos here.

7:30 pm MDT — Weather favorable to fire fighting has kept the Scott Able Fire near Cloudcroft contained to an area around the Weed community, although it is still not considered under control. Our spot inspection got us as far as NM 130 and the Weed turnoff, where we were turned back by Border Patrol Agents manning the road block. The pictures we posted are not indicative of the ferocity of the blaze since they were taken some 10 miles from the fire.

We visited the evacuation center at Cloudcroft High School this pm. Few people were there because most of them had made arrangements for housing with friends or were checked into motels. The Salvation Army and Red Cross will continue to provide the service.

The Type 1 fire fighting crew will take over from the Type 2 crew tomorrow morning at 6 am. A Type 1 crew is the highest fire fighting status. While the Forest Service is advising that Cloudcroft is in minimal danger, it is advised that as long as the fire is out of control, there remains an element of danger and all area residents should keep abreast of the situation.

8:45 pm MDT — The worst is over. The National Forest Service says the fire has moved very little since this morning and is 40% contained. No new movement in any significant direction. It has been a cool and calm afternoon here today, which has helped in the fire fighting efforts. We will continue with updates when new information becomes available.

Day 1 Coverage

Day 3 Coverage