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Monday, November 28, 2022

Couple found dead by wildfire destroys New Mexico homes

The remains of a New Mexico couple were found near their burned home, as wind-driven wildfires burned more than 200 homes on the edge of a mountainous community in the southern part of the state.

Firefighters used a brake on Thursday, a steady stream of relentless blows to advance against the deadly wildfire that is believed to have killed both men.

Police investigators and firefighters found the aged couple’s remains on Wednesday afternoon, after family members informed Ruidoso police that the two had tried to evacuate but were nowhere to be found.

Ruidoso spokeswoman Kerry Gladden said Thursday that the remains were found near the home, but not in it, and that no additional information was immediately available. Officers were working to confirm the identities of the two men.

The fire spread to a more densely populated area in the northeastern part of Ruidoso on Wednesday afternoon, prompting more evacuations. Laura Rabon, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln National Forest, interrupted a fire briefing and told people to get into their cars and jump after the flames went up a road where crews were trying to hold the line.

Authorities have asked for the evacuation of 4,500 people.

“We have students who have lost their homes. We have to support them on Tuesday” when school resumes, said high school English teacher Sarah Ames Brown, who was with the students when they were pulled from the bus when they saw flames in the woods outside. Was being

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Overnight, crews stopped the flames from moving further into the village, and Rabon said progress continued Thursday as helicopters dropped water and ground crews made safe lines to the east and south. He also created hot spots in neighborhoods where flames erupted earlier this week.

The fires have burned an estimated 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) of forest and grass, and strong winds affecting the area have left behind trees and power lines below. Crews continued work on Thursday to restore power in parts of the village that have been without electricity since Monday.

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Email is no longer working in the school district, Ruidoso Municipal School said in a statement on Facebook on Thursday, and the school’s website was down. Gladden said the school’s servers were unable to get back online due to a power outage.

While the cause of the fire was being investigated, fire officials and forecasters warned that persistent dry and windy conditions had prompted another day of red flag warnings. For the eastern third of New Mexico and other parts of the Midwest.

Incident Commander Dave Belles said the strategy was “while we can,” noting that the winds were expected again on Friday.

“We are trying to keep this fire as small as possible, especially because it is right in the community,” he said. “We’ve suffered damage to a lot of structures, so our crews are going as straight as possible to the front of the fire.”

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Six new major fires were reported on Wednesday: three in Texas, two in Colorado and one in Oklahoma. In total, wildland firefighters and aid workers were trying to extinguish 11 major fires that have burned more than 40 square miles (103 square kilometers) in five states.

Since the start of the year, 18,550 wildfires have burned nearly 1,250 square miles (3,237 square kilometers), the National Interagency Fire Center reported Thursday. This is well above the 10-year average of 12,290 wildfires and the burning of 835 square miles (2162.64 square kilometers).

Fire scientists say hot and dry weather, coupled with decades of fire suppression, has contributed to the increase in the number of acres burned by wildfires. The problem has been exacerbated by the more than 20-year-old western megadrought that has been linked to human-caused climate change.

Elsewhere in New Mexico, wildfires burn northwest of Ruidoso, along the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, in the mountains northwest of the community of Las Vegas and along the Pecos River near the city of Roswell. Was being

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Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Phoenix from Davenport.

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Cedar Atanasio contributed reporting from Santa Fe. Attanasio is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. report for america is a non-profit national service program that hires journalists in local newsrooms to report on the issues covered.

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