NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Firefighters are still working to get control of a prescribed burn in Chaves County, located between Dexter and Roswell. Nineteen hundred acres have been burned so far and winds have been the biggest factor. The Bureau of Land Management says numerous fire crews from multiple agencies worked through the night to get a handle on the Overflow fire which is now 50% contained.
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“It’s just going to depend on the dryness, the fuels – this is a fuel-driven fire, it’s not a wind-driven fire. It’s a fuel-driven first. So, it’s just going to depend if they get the guys in there and knock some of that fuel down so that it can spread,” said Linda Wallace with the U.S. Forest Service Department.
Wallace says the prescribed burn began around 11:30 Thursday morning and about two hours later, it was declared a wildfire after winds whipped up the flames affecting grassy areas on BLM land. The winds were not expected to be as high as they were Thursday. Although the fire was in a rural area along the Pecos corridor, some homes were put at risk as the flames quickly spread. But hard work from crews helped prevent the fire from reaching those homes.
Ernie Lopez and his wife saw the prescribed burn get out of control and then got quite a surprise right around bedtime. “[At] 10:30 last night, I was just falling asleep. I said ‘let me check to see to make sure everything is good.’ I saw a fire start up just right over here. So, I called BLM and told them to get over here because we have [a] fire over here. So, they got over here and fought it and it got all the way right up behind us,” said Lopez.
Firefighters saved the blaze from reaching Lopez’s home. Wallace says current conditions are in their favor as winds are slight, which will better help crews contain more of the fire. Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say all aspects of prescribed burn conditions were followed by their fire management which gave them the green light to start it in the first place.