RUIDOSO, N.M. (KRQE) - As the Little Bear Fire fight continues, the village of Ruidoso is preparing for another potential disaster, flooding.
It's a battle they've fought before, and officials say the fire has heightened their concerns.
As firefighters still work to suppress the nearly 38,000-acre Little Bear Fire, others are working prevention.
"We're trying to stay way ahead of the game," said Ruidoso Interim Fire Chief Harlan Vincent.
Ruidoso firefighters are shoveling, bagging and loading 30-pound bags of sand that will be used as dams to protect homes against floods.
"Worse-case scenario, an inch of rain in an hour, a couple inches of rain in an hour," Vincent said. "That's going to be a big, big problem."
Since the fire has burned vegetation at the top of the mountain, it's dried up the land even more. Even though the area is dying to get some rain, officials say too much could make things worse.
"It definitely is a double-edge sword because if we get too much too fast, it's going to cause flooding issues," said Vincent.
Ruidoso saw one of the state's worst disasters in 2008 flooding. Fierce currents damaged dozens of homes, trapped hundreds of people and killed one person.
One of the main areas that flooded in 2008 was in Upper Canyon.
Because of the lower elevation in the canyon, Vincent said it's definitely on the radar for potential flooding this year. But Ruidoso firefighters are doing all they can to prevent that loading bags between other duties.
"We just try to get here and get as many as we can get done in a day while we run our other calls," Firefighter Cody Thetford said.
Firefighters will also have help from the National Guard and volunteers bagging sand and placing it in strategic areas affected or threatened by the fire.
"We can probably put out two or three, maybe 4,000 bags at a time," said Vincent.
Ruidoso has seen its share of disasters, but Vincent said it's given them experience they've learned from.
"We are prepared right now, but whenever you go up against Mother Nature, it's very difficult," he said. "The goal is to get through this as a community."
An emergency-response team that specializes in burned areas is also coming in to help Ruidoso prepare for flooding.
Hydrologists and soil conservationists will help figure out where to channel flood waters if the rain comes.
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