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The McBride Fire that broke out Tuesday near the village of Ruidoso has destroyed more than 200 homes and killed two people.
An elderly couple – whom family members said planned to evacuate – was found dead last week near their burnt residence after family members contacted the police. Authorities have yet to release their names.
According to InciWeb, the fire has scorched more than 6,000 acres and remains 0% contained.
While power was restored for all but a few hundred customers, evacuation orders for nearly 5,000 people remained in place.
While the fire did not make any runs at the lines crews had established, conditions were warm, windy and dry.
The hotlines lit up on Friday afternoon as people in the village called to report more smoke.
Fire information officer Mike DeFries said that was due to flare-ups within the interior of the fire as the flames found pockets of unburned fuel.
Officials asked for patience as fire crews worked to put out hotspots.
“It’s still an active fire area in there and it’s not a safe place,” DeFries said. “It’s going to require patience. At the same time, every step that we’re taking is designed to suppress this fire and to get people back home as soon as possible.”
“We know people going through this devastating and emotional time want to collect their belongings and assess the damage to their homes,” New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton said in a Saturday statement. “We kindly ask you to please practice patience. These areas are too dangerous and the last thing we want is for anyone to be seriously hurt. Fires can quickly change direction, burned out root systems can cause trees to fall, and homes may be unsafe to enter.”
Ruidoso, where officials declared a state of emergency, was hit by one of the most destructive wildfires in state history in 2012.
The fire is suspected to have started due to a downed power line and an investigation into the matter continued on Friday.
In addition, hotter and drier weather and the more than 20-year megadrought linked to human-caused climate change have contributed to an increase in the number of acres burned by wildfires.
Crews have been battling large fires in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, where a new fire necessitated evacuations on Friday north of Boulder.
More than 1,400 wildland firefighters are assigned to incidents in the Southern, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain areas, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The agency said Friday that there are 10 uncontained large fires burning across five states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.