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2 Are Killed in ‘Devastating’ New Mexico Wildfires

U.S.2 Are Killed in ‘Devastating’ New Mexico Wildfires

Two fast-moving wildfires in Southern New Mexico that have killed two people, prompted the evacuation of thousands of people and scorched more than 23,000 acres continued to burn out of control on Wednesday, officials said, and it was unclear when firefighters might gain some control.

The wildfires, named the South Fork and Salt fires, began earlier this week amid sweltering temperatures, and shifts in the weather on Wednesday may further complicate efforts to contain them. The South Fork fire, the larger of the two wildfires, has burned more than 16,000 acres and destroyed 1,400 structures, according to the Southwest Area Incident Management Team.

Two people have died, the New Mexico police said in a statement on Wednesday. Both bodies were found on Tuesday in or near the village of Ruidoso, N.M., which is between the two fires. One victim, whom the police identified as Patrick Pearson, 60, was found dead on the side of a road near a motel, with numerous burns, the statement said. The other victim, who was found in the driver’s seat of a burned vehicle on a road, was not immediately identified.

Temperatures reached the upper 80s and 90s in Southern New Mexico on Wednesday. There was a chance of showers and thunderstorms beginning in the afternoon, the National Weather Service said. But expected winds of 15 miles an hour or more might cause the fire to spread.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Lincoln County on Wednesday afternoon.

The warning prompted emergency management officials in Ruidoso to announce that they were “pulling all operations” from certain areas near the fire. “As the units and crews leave these areas,” the officials said on social media, “they will be evacuating anyone that is still in the area to higher ground.”


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