Friday, May 25, 2012

Wildfire destroys 12 homes in southwestern New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Winds and erratic flames forced firefighters to sit on the sidelines Thursday as a massive fire that destroyed a dozen homes and several other structures in small New Mexico community grew larger and put more buildings at risk.

Tripling in size over the last day, the lightning-sparked Whitewater and Baldy fires merged to burn across more than 110 square miles of the Gila National Forest by Thursday.

"At this point it's just a monitoring situation to see whether (crews) can find some place where they can build lines or do something to slow it down," said fire information officer Iris Estes.

The wind-whipped fire burned Wednesday afternoon through the Willow Creek subdivision, a small summer community in southwestern New Mexico. Officials confirmed 12 cabins along with seven small outbuildings were destroyed, and the damage assessment continued Thursday.

Fire managers said employees with the State Forestry Division and the U.S. Forest Service would be contacting property owners. Read More