CAPITAN, N.M. (KRQE) – What started as a controlled burn quickly grew out of control just off Highway 380 in Capitan.
“This is a devastating loss,” said Clifford Wood, a Capitan resident who lost his home in the blaze.
Wood moved onto his wife’s property 10 years ago. For his wife, Karen Bailey, this is the only place she’s ever lived. Too upset to talk on camera, Monday morning she saw her childhood memories go up in flames.
“She grabbed an animal, she didn’t even make it out the door with her glasses,” Wood said.
Napping at the time the fire broke out, they had no warning the blaze was approaching.
“It was very fortunate that Karen woke up to smell the smoke, and got out the door as quickly as she did or else she may not be here today,” Wood said.
Not only did they lose all of their belongings, but a few of their furry friends are unaccounted for.
“We had eight cats and a dog. She was able to get the dog out and the cats… she left the door open and we don’t know what happened with them,” he said.
The neighbor behind Monday’s controlled burn had approval from the sheriff’s department, but unexpected winds quickly changed the course of the flames.
“It was supposed to be something minor. It was started off as a controlled burn. A man burned some grass in his backyard, he took a chance with New Mexico weather,” said Capitan Police Chief Randy Spear.
The fire ended up scorching 30 acres. Local law enforcement knows this could be just the beginning of a very long year.
“If New Mexico doesn’t get some moisture, which I don’t see any coming in the near future, the firemen are going to be very busy,” Spear said.
As of Monday night, Capitan has a ban on open fires. The family has set up a GoFundMe for assistance.