Firefighters, Evacuees Struggle as Ruidoso Fire Rages

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

RUIDOSO, N.M. - The blazes of the Little Bear Fire have been burning since June 4th, so far consuming more than 36,000 acres and 35 structures.

Hundreds are now homeless and nearly 1,000 firefighters continue the fight.

They're keeping it corralled at 35% containment, trying to choke the flames.

"We do what's called burn out operations, so that's where you see firefighters with drip torches, putting fire on the ground," David Shell, Public Information Officer with the Incident Management Team, said. "What we're doing is we're taking fuel away from the fire, turning it black and that generally stops the fire at that point."

So far the plan is working, drawing the fire further away from Ruidoso.

Meanwhile, Red Cross shelters at the local high school stand by for evacuees, already giving more than 1,300 meals since the blaze began.

For the evacuees NewsWest 9 spoke with, their day-to-day activities now consist of checking in to shelters for food, rest and supplies and also checking the roadblocks nearest their area to see when they can go home.

Mike Rankin and his son saw the flames for themselves. They've been homeless since last Friday.

"We watched the ridges and started seeing flames coming over the top of the ridge," Rankin said. "I had already determined that that is when we would get out."

"A heavy feeling when you're kind of homeless and displaced," Evacuee, Rick Rel, said.

Rel experienced first-hand through his friend, Keith, the sacrifice New Mexicans were making to help each other get out.

"During the time that we were transporting my motorcycles to his shop, he lost his home and all his possessions," Rel said. "That's really something, for somebody to be helping one person when he's losing his own stuff."

As for Rankin, he's been checking his local roadblock near Magado Creek at least once a day just to see if he can go home, if there is a home to go back to.

"I've already spoken to a neighbor and his place is gone and that's within a mile of my house," he said.

If you are an evacuee and need information, you can call (575) 258-6900.

Also, evacuees are encouraged to register at to make sure loved ones know they are safe.

The Red Cross of New Mexico is in dire need of monetary donations.

You can donate to fire efforts online at

All checks should be mailed to:
Red Cross of New Mexico
7445 Pan American
Freeway, NE Albuquerque, NM 87109

Be sure to include the word "Ruidoso" in the note line so that your check goes straight to the effort.