Scott Able Fire
Day 5 – May 15, 2000

May 15, 2000 — Cloudcroft.Com Special Report

9:00 am MDT — News sources are confirming that the fire was started by a downed power line in Scott Able Canyon, 15 miles south of Cloudcroft. The Forest Service is reporting that 64 residences, 16 outbuildings and 12 vehicles were lost, and that structures are still threatened on the North and East sides of the fire.

1:30 pm MDT — Evacuees are returning to their homes today, except for those in the Hay Canyon area. State Police, Otero County Sheriff’s Deputies and Cloudcroft P.D. are coordinating the efforts. A bus, a boat and 11 other vehicles are included in the count of vehicles and property lost.

The evacuation center has been moved from Cloudcroft to Mayhill. Officials are asking that everyone driving NM 130 and Highway 82 drive carefully as there are still many fire vehicles on the road. The fire remains 50% contained and no new acreage outside the perimeter has been affected.

2:15 pm MDT — The National Forest Service is reporting the possibility of a downed aircraft somewhere between the West edge of the Scott Able Fire and Alamogordo. More information as it becomes available.

2:30 pm MDT — If you would like to donate to an account to help people displaced by the Scott Able Fire, the address is:

Scott Able Fire Donation Account
First National Bank of Alamogordo,
Cloudcroft Branch
Box 168
Cloudcroft NM 88317-0168

We are still standing by for information on the report of a possible downed aircraft associated with the Scott Able Fire.

2:59 pm MDT — An aircraft has been confirmed down in the Alamo Canyon area near Alamogordo. There was reported to have been 3 aboard the plane. No survivors in the crash. No confirmation as to whether or not the aircraft was taking part in the fighting of the Scott Able Fire, but there are indications that that might be the case. The State Police report no fire associated with the crash. Cloudcroft.Com will provide more information when it becomes available.

3:30 pm MDT — The Cloudcroft Forest Service office reports the downed aircraft was likely a tanker involved in fighting the Scott Able Fire. The plane went down in an area of scrub and light vegetation, allowing little opportunity for a new fire to start up. Slurry has already been dropped on the site. The large amount of smoke associated with the crash and reported by the public is largely due to the fuel burning. The deaths of those aboard the aircraft are the first human casualties of the blaze that began near Cloudcroft Thursday afternoon.

4:10 pm MDT — The National Forest Service will issue a Red Flag Warning for tomorrow. A Red Flag Warning means the possibility of a fire expansion outside the perimeters. The warning was issued based upon weather reports that high winds and low humidity can be expected for tomorrow.

Cloudcroft has issued an ordinance prohibiting smoking anywhere that is not in a fully enclosed building. Violators could be fined as much as $500 and subject to up to 90 days in jail.

6:00 pm MDT — The Cree Fire (near Ruidoso) is considered 100% contained, meaning it is surrounded by either fire breaks or burned fuel. Complete snuffing of the blaze is hoped for by Tuesday or Wednesday.

A town hall meeting has been called for Cloudcroft area residents at 6 pm Thursday, May 18th in the Cloudcroft Red Brick Schoolhouse/Library. Topics of discussion will include the Scott Able Fire and related forest health issues.

6:20 pm MDT — 800 people involved in fighting the Scott Able Fire at this time. One injury (firefighter) and 2 deaths (plane crew) reported so far. The plane was reported to be a spotter plane leaving Alamogordo for fire site. It is said to have crashed near Alamogordo. Some increase in fire activity reported today, although no breaches of established fire lines were reported. As reported earlier, an increase in activity can be expected tomorrow if a forecasted increase in winds and a lower humidity comes about. Residents North of the blaze are advised that further evacuations are still possible.

Cost of fighting the Scott Able Fire so far (not counting the cost in lives and injury) $1, 570, 000. While the blaze is considered of human origin, it was accidental, due to a blown down high power electrical line near the Scott Able 4-H Camp Ground Thursday afternoon.

7:40 pm MDT — A synopsis of today’s battle against the Scott Able Fire:

In the early part of the day, fire fighters were both confident and cautious. They were confident enough to allow the return of residents to evacuated areas (all accept the Hay Canyon area, where residents were allowed to return under police supervision to retrieve valuables for an hour and then were asked to leave again). They were cautious by releasing information that tomorrow will be a “Red Flag” day, meaning high winds and low humidity are expected, precursors to the outbreak of fires away from the established perimeters.

People North of the established breaks are warned that new evacuations could be possible despite the fact that the line of defense has been built.

Fire inventory — 64 homes, 16 outbuildings, 1 bus, 1 boat, and 11 other vehicles. One injury and 2 deaths.

We greatly appreciate your emails. Thanks for your help and keep sending us any information you have.

8:55 pm MDT — The Ruidoso News has a report on the Forest Service plane crash and updated information on the Cree fire.

8:55 pm MDT — Linda Ground Sanders reports the following:

“Two members of my family traveled from Oklahoma this weekend to find that our family haven of nearly 30 years on Skyridge Mountain is no more. All of the cabins and the Church of Christ Camp on the mountain are gone. Our cabin was located near Wayland Canyon. Because of the message on your site we knew the chances of finding an untouched cabin were extremely slim. We will truly miss our paradise in the sky and our treks along “Happy Thought Avenue” (so named by my Dad who just passed away this last October).”

10:30 pm MDT — The National Weather Service Southwest Area Fire Report is available here.

11:30 pm MDT — You can now obtain the National Weather Service daily fire forecast for New Mexico by clicking the Fire Forecast link in the left column.

Day 4 Coverage

Day 6 Coverage