NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The evacuations in San Miguel and Mora counties keep expanding, forcing families to run and leave everything behind…again. Families News 13 spoke with fled from canyons in the area with what belongings they had for the first time, but some say they’ve had to contend with leaving everything behind for this fire not once, but twice already.
“They evacuated us at three. So, I left my dad’s house that last Friday, and then this Friday, I got evacuated from my mom’s house,” says Ariana Sanchez, who’s been evacuated twice.
Ariana remembers getting half the day off from school to get ready to evacuate from her dad’s house, grabbing what she could to take to her mom’s. And then, having to do it all over again.
Ariana says she’s never had to evacuate from a fire before and never imagined the fire would get so big so fast. “It’s pretty stressful,” she says. “Like, I never would have thought that it would’ve come to this.”
Ariana and her mom came to the evacuation shelter at the Old Memorial Middle School Monday to stock up on supplies, while they sit and hope that their home survives in the coming days.
All 197 patients at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute have also been evacuated. Some of them going to the state veterans’ home in Truth or Consequences and housed in two of the secured units.
Those involved in crimes were taken to Santa Rosa and Santa Fe by police escort.
More and more people are faced with evacuation. It’s not just families that are trying to figure out how to get out safely.
For most, when the order comes down to evacuate, people grab what they’ve packed and run. However, for the San Miguel County Detention Center, getting around 80 inmates out safely and quickly comes with its own challenges.
“I was informed on Friday afternoon about 1:30 that there was a fire near the detention center and so the San Miguel County Sheriff notified me that I needed to evacuate, or plan to evacuate the facility within 48 hours,” says Antonio Padilla, warden of the San Miguel County Detention Center.
The warden says the jail has never been evacuated like this since it was built back in 1995. Over the weekend, they had 85 inmates in custody. Working with local courts and different centers around the state, they found placement for 65 detainees and bussed them around the state–20 to 30 inmates at a time.
21 detainees were released, but the warden wants the public to know:
“Most of them were low misdemeanor offenders, repeat offenders who were in custody who couldn’t post bond, so yeah they were no threat to the public,” Padilla says.
Padilla says they had to be strategic in getting everyone out that quickly to keep the inmates and the public safe throughout the transfer process.
Padilla says once they get the all-clear to come back to the jail, they will return the inmates who are still in custody about ten or 15 at a time.
All court proceedings at the San Miguel Magistrate Courthouse, the Fourth Judicial District Courthouse, and Mora Magistrate Courthouse were postponed Monday. No decision has been made on closures beyond Monday.