N.M. Residents Go Home for Night

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) -- Firefighters ordered the evacuation of hundreds of homes in four subdivisions Saturday as a 700-acre wildfire grew quickly in whipping winds.

By late Saturday, as winds died back and flames laid down, emergency officials said evacuees were allowed to return home for the night.

''They're letting all the people back in tonight, but obviously there's a good possibility they'll have to take them back out tomorrow,'' said Tom Gorman, spokesman for the state Emergency Operations Center in Santa Fe. He said fire officials ''indicated the fire was laying down for the night.''

About 100 National Guard troops from Roswell were placed on emergency active duty Saturday to provide security, water and electric generators in the fire-besieged town, guard spokesman Tom Koch said.

''Their primary function is to provide security,'' Koch said.

Ruidoso emergency operations director Tomas Chavez said about 1,200 evacuees had fled more than 200 homes. Water sufficient for 2,000 evacuees was being ordered, Koch said.

Electrical generation was needed particularly at the airport, Koch said, where ground crews were unable to pump fire retardant liquid into the slurry bombers. Power outages occurred elsewhere in Ruidoso, as well.

''The fire burned through an area where the power lines were, so power is down in the town,'' state Emergency Operations Center spokesman Tom Gorman said.

He said the village of Ruidoso had declared an emergency, and that declaration was forwarded to Gov. Gary Johnson, who authorized use of state resources but did not immediately declare a state emergency.

The fire grew rapidly Saturday to at least 700 acres, driven by winds gusting up to 40 mph, Chavez said.

More than 300 firefighters battled the blaze. The cause of the fire was under investigation. No homes were reported burned as of 6 p.m., and no injuries were reported.

A day earlier, about 50 homes north of Ruidoso were evacuated because of a 200-acre wildfire. Ruidoso is about 100 miles northeast of El Paso.

A fire in the area last year burned 8,650 acres.

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