Arson May Have Caused N.M. Fire

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) -- Officials said they suspect arson was the cause of a wildfire that raged within a half-mile of a mountain resort community Monday.

The blaze on the Mescalero Apache reservation grew to 643 acres Monday and was 40 percent contained, authorities said. The reservation borders one of New Mexico's most popular tourist spots, featuring skiing in the winter and horse racing in the spring and summer.

Asked about arson, Larry Humphrey, incident management commander for the fire, said: ''It's been suspected. The investigation is still ongoing'' by the FBI and several other agencies.

Authorities said they were concerned that winds could help the blaze grow. Gusts of at least 22 mph were expected Monday, but weaker winds were expected Tuesday. About 1,200 residents and tourists who evacuated the area Saturday were allowed to return.

About 200 people were asked to leave again Sunday but returned to their homes Monday evening. Gov. Gary Johnson declared a state of emergency Sunday.

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