June 2, 2001 — Cloudcroft.com Special Report

7:30 pm MDT — A wildfire near the Inn of the Mountain Gods is being addressed by the Forest Service. Our sources are indicating several fire fighting units have been called to fight the blaze, indicating this fire may be significant.

Authorities are now evacuating residents of the Camelot, Crown Point, High Sierra and Inn of the Mountain Gods residential areas.

The fire began at around 3 pm MDT.

More to come as it becomes available on Cloudcroft.com.

8:00 pm MDT — The evacuation points for the fire near the Inn of the Mountain Gods has been designated as the Cloudcroft High School.

No immediate danger for Cloudcroft residents.

8:05 pm MDT — According to KRUI, radio-ruidoso, Hwy 70 was closed when the fire began but has now been re-opened. The station reported 3 slurry planes on the scene of the fire.

Temperatures in the area are around 85 degrees. Winds are slow to moderate.

8:20 pm MDT — A forest blaze began at 3 pm near the Inn of the Mountain Gods on the Mescalero Indian reservation. The main fire is located between the Inn and Ruidoso. Still no word on its origins.

Alarms were sent to several fire fighting units within the reservation and the Alamogordo-Cloudcroft-Ruidoso region, which indicates an outbreak that may be out of control.

More as it becomes available.

9:20 pm MDT — Hwys 70 and 244 have been re-opened near Ruidoso.

Note: This fire is being called the Trap and Skeet Fire, not the Homestead Fire as reported earlier. The Homestead Fire is another fire in the Ruidoso area. The Homestead Fire is mostly in an area that was burned during last year´s Cree fire and is not as difficult to manage.

10:30 pm MDT — According to Ruidoso sources, evacuees from the Trap and Skeet Fire that began this afternoon at 3 pm near the Inn of the Mountain Gods have been allowed to return home.

Since the blaze is still not considered contained, a new evaluation is supposed to be issued at 10 am, June 3 which may allow for new evacuation alerts.

Favorable wind conditions have contributed to good firefighting. No loss of property or life has been reported.

Here is an AP press release on the fire.

June 3 — Cloudcroft.com Special Report

9:15 am MDT — The Trap and Skeet Fire which started around 3 pm yesterday between the Village of Ruidoso and The Inn of the Mountain Gods on the Mescalero Apache reservation is still burning out of control. No reports of loss of property or injuries as a result of the fire which is being addressed by several National Forest Service units as well as about a half-dozen volunteer fire departments from all over the region.

Officials are hoping for favorable conditions today. If the winds pick up, there could be a need for renewed evacuations. Homeowners in the affected area were allowed to return home last night. An official re-evaluation is scheduled for 10am this morning.

If conditions worsen there could be power interruptions in the Ruidoso area, but utility workers are busy this morning trying to avoid any problems before they present themselves.

11:10 am MDT — KRUI radio Ruidoso is reporting a new round of evacuations due to the Trap and Skeet fire will begin at 11 am today. The specific residential areas to be evacuated were not immediately announced.

Still no word on what caused the blaze that is burning close to the Village of Ruidoso although authorities are sure it is of human origin.

National Guard units from Roswell are said to be on hand in helping with evacuation efforts.

11:30 am MDT — Trap and Skeet Fire facts:

Began at 2:30 pm Saturday. Fire fighting crews from Lincoln, Chaves and Otero counties are involved, as well as 4 specialized Hot Shot teams and 4 slurry planes.

Approximately 700 Ruidoso homes were evacuated yesterday. Evacuees returned home last night. Many are being re-evacuated today due to increased danger because of high winds.

Burn area revised to 400 acres down from the estimated 800 acres yesterday.

Highway 70 re-opened. Carrizo Canyon road still closed.

Power outages may reoccur today for Ruidoso residents. Power must be shut off to a high voltage line in the fire area during slurry drops.

The Trap and Skeet Fire is considered about 5% contained as of 11 am Sunday.

No injuries or property damage reported.

12:05 pm MDTHere´s a map showing the location of the Trap and Skeet (and Homestead) Fires.

3:45 pm MDT — Residents of homes in the southern part of Ruidoso have been evacuated due to the close proximity of the Trap and Skeet fire… all except for one resident who refused to leave.

Brisk winds have impeded efforts today. The fire is still listed as only 5% contained. Residents have been told to expect periodic power outages during the day.

The Red Cross is accepting cash donations for assisting displaced persons due to the fire. Their number is 1-505-257-7579

No injuries. No property damage reported.

4:30 pm MDT — The Forest Service has issued 2 press releases on the Trap and Skeet Fire. Here and here.

5:00 pm MDTHere´s a map of the Trap and Skeet Fire area.

6:20 pm MDT — A half-mile may seem like a long way, unless it is the distance between a raging forest fire and your back door. The Trap and Skeet Fire came that close to homes in Ruidoso. It came within a half mile of the southern edge of the Village yesterday, making it necessary to evacuate several dwellings. Miraculously, a day later, despite the fact that firefighters have not been able to bring the fire under control, no property has been lost and there have been no injuries.

The old Wal-Mart building on US 70 in Ruidoso has been transformed into a shelter for displaced persons, while as many as 400 firefighters, 6 hotshot crews and 2 helicopters battled Trap and Skeet to a draw today.

Two slurry planes were grounded most of the day today due to winds. It is expected they will be pressed back into service late this afternoon. They managed to bulldoze a fireline between the fire and the Village, hoping it would hold in the brisk winds.

Officials are saying they are convinced the fire was started by a person or persons, but are not saying who or under what circumstances. The Inn of the Mountain Gods, close to the fire’s origin on the Mescalero reservation, was closed yesterday, but was open for business today.

Eye witness reports are indicating there is much more smoke than fire, perhaps due to higher levels of moisture this year as compared to last.

Burned area: Approximately 400 acres. Property damage: None. Injuries: None. Containment: 5%. Displaced persons: About 700.

6:45 pm MDTHere is an AP press release on the fire.

June 4 — Cloudcroft.com Special Report

7:30 am MDTHere are several photos of the Trap and Skeet Fire as seen June 3 from Ruidoso, taken by Lisa Obst.

8:00 am MDT — Here are some photos of the fire taken on June 2 by Jack Schuller.

9:15 am MDT — New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has declared a state of emergency after inspecting the Trap and Skeet Fire. He told local reporters late yesterday the fire was very similar to the Los Alamos fire of last summer that destroyed several residences there. No property damage or injuries have been reported in the Trap and Skeet Fire. Authorities are declaring the blaze 40% contained.

Arson is suspected in the blaze which came within 700 yards of The Inn of the Mountain Gods… the fire’s point of origin. Fortunately wind conditions moved the blaze away from the resort.

Persons displaced by the blaze are being directed to the Ruidoso Convention Center (1-505-258-5445).

Fire control officials have added an extra 50 acres to the total amount of deep forest consumed, bringing the total to 440.

About 700 persons are directly involved in containing the blaze, including 2 helicopters and two large tanker planes used to drop retardant.

There is still concern regarding the power line running through the fire area. Should this line be compromised, it could present power outages to the Village of Ruidoso and surrounding homes. Power was disrupted Saturday when the fire began but workers have been able to sustain power since then.

6:30 pm MDT — Sometimes no news is good news. That’s the case with the Trap and Skeet Fire near Ruidoso. Very little has changed in containment (about 40%) and acreage burned (450) since this morning. Firefighters are dedicating themselves to the hotspots well within the fire perimeter and the threat to the Village of Ruidoso itself is lessening.

Officials are still concerned about the power line running through the fire area, but that, too, is becoming less of a problem as firefighters attack the more volatile areas with increased success. Wind is still presenting a challenge and fire officials are cautious about declaring Ruidoso as out of danger.

KRUI, Ruidoso’s news/talk/tourism radio, reports 200-300 people are still in temporary shelters. A meeting of fire officials tonight at 6:00 pm will determine whether or not those people can return to their homes.

In a village of casinos and horseracing, no one was willing to give odds Saturday when the fire started so close to town that there would be no reported damage after 2 full days. Up to now the Village has beaten those odds. The unseasonable moisture in May is a probable factor in the successful management of the Trap and Skeet Fire.

Mary Lois Ledbetter, a retiree with a home in Ruidoso, evacuated Saturday. Her son Charles told us via the internet this morning that she is anxious to return to Ruidoso. In her 84 years, Mrs. Ledbetter has seen her share of adversity. This time her story looks more and more like it will have a happy ending.

8:30 pm MDTHere is the Forest Service´s latest press release.

June 5 — Cloudcroft.com Special Report

8:30 am MDT — The Forest Service is reporting that the Trap and Skeet Fire is now 60% contained.

10:30 am MDT — With the the Trap and Skeet Fire about 60% contained, the danger to the Village of Ruidoso has been lessened considerably.

Evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes and firefighters continue to concentrate on hot spots well within the perimeter of the fire.

Still about 700 fire personnel remain on the job. Stand downs of some of these crews are expected in the next few days.

The origin is being referred to as “suspicious”. An arson investigation has begun.

Cloudcroft.com will continue to pass along official releases about the fire as they become available.

450 acres burned. No property loss. No injuries.

11:00 am MDTHere is the latest AP press release on the fire.

5:30 pm MDTHere is the latest Forest Service press release.

June 6 — Cloudcroft.com Special Report

8:30 am MDT — Mopping up operations continue on the fire. Due to extreme fire danger, the Mescalero Reservation is closed to the general public.

9:00 am MDT — The Forest Service reports that it expects the Trap and Skeet Fire to be 100% contained by 6 pm today.

11:00 pm MDT — The Forest Service reports:

“The 463-acre Trap and Skeet Fire south of Ruidoso, New Mexico, is 100% contained. Larry Humphrey’s Type I Southwest Area Incident Management Team will turn over management of the fire to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Mescalero Agency on Thursday. The Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will begin rehabilitating burned areas, which will include seeding native grasses and installing water bars, along with other erosion control and revegetation to return the land to its condition before the fire.”