New Mexico

Severe winds cause '246 Fire' to spread, burning homes, outbuildings

CAPITAN, N.M. (KRQE) - A fast moving wildfire that began Thursday near Capitan continues to grow. Now, KRQE News 13 has learned that homes have been destroyed and more people are on standby for evacuation.

Many families who were forced from their homes Thursday are just waiting to see what they have left.

“It is a wind driven fire,” said Linda Wallace, Pecos Fire Type 3 Team spokesperson.

The fire broke out in Capitan around 4:30 Thursday afternoon; and with 60 mph winds, it didn't take much for the flames to jump Highway 246 and continue towards the mountains.

“I was evacuated at about 6:30 [Thursday] afternoon,” said Tillman Burch of Capitan.

Many residents like Tillman Burch had just minutes to grab their belongings and leave.

“I can't tell you how much damage is there because it's never going to look the same,” he said.

Burch stayed in his car overnight, and sat and watched the flames. He's still waiting on an update about the condition of his home, but his neighbors, who are also his brother and sister, have already received news.

“My brother got all of his livestock out, but they said my sister’s house burned,” he said.

 Fire officials say they're not the only family to receive bad news, there have been other loses.

“Two structures, four outbuildings and one tree house,” Wallace said.

The winds continue to fan the flames. The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but has spread over 2,600 acres.

Betty Joiner from Capitan, saw the whole thing unfold from her kitchen window.

“I could see the flames and it just, I just couldn't believe it. I just kept waiting and hoping for fire trucks,” she explained.

Joiner took in a neighbor that was forced from her home. Joiner says she had a close call.

“It was a blessing because the wind went that a way and didn't get their house,” she said. “It burned right up to the back door.”

The fire is named the '246 Fire.' Hot shot crews and a Type 2 team which specialize in fighting wildfires, were called in Thursday night.

They say the high winds didn't allow air support to be brought in.           

Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees at Trinity Church in Capitan.

Anyone evacuating to a Red Cross shelter should bring essential items for each member of the family:

  • Prescriptions and emergency medications
  • Foods that meet unusual dietary requirements
  • Important personal documents
  • Extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items
  • Supplies needed for children and infants, such as diapers, formula and toys
  • Special items for family members who are elderly or disabled
  • Chargers for any electronic devices you bring with you
  • Books, games and other ways to entertain your family and yourself
  • Note – Public health regulations do not permit pets in shelters; service animals are permitted (food, crate, and other supplies to care for your service animal.)

 


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