Progress in the Little Bear Fire: Now 30% contained UPDATE: 175 structures destroyed, valued at $11.5M
Print This Post
After a hellish weekend, firefighters made some real progress on the Little Bear Fire in the Ruidoso, NM area on Monday (June 11), going from zero percent containment Sunday to an estimated 30 percent containment by early Monday evening, thanks in part to lower temperatures and some favorable winds.
The fire burned more than 1,500 acres Monday but that’s a dramatic improvement over the roughly 10,000 acres a day consumed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. US Forest Service official Carl Schwope says the Little Bear Fire has now burned up more than 34,000 acres as firefighters managed to claw their way into constructing some 25 miles of bulldozer lines along the northeastern perimeter of the fire in an effort to protect homes.
“I’m not going to say it’s contained, but we do have a fire line in there (above Cedar Creek and Upper Canyon),” Schwope told the Ruidoso News. “It’s close, but it’s not moving.”
Weather forecasters say there’s a chance of showers in the coming days that could further help contain the fire that has led hundreds to evacuate their homes. At least 36 structures have been destroyed and the numbers could climb. Update 6/12, 9 a.m.: Damage assessment update from Lincoln County Assessor Paul Baca – 175 structures destroyed, total value estimate: $11.5 million; assessment is not complete.
Gov. Susana Martinez addressed dozens of residents at the Ruidoso High School Gymnasium, pledging support from state’s National Guard units and telling the crowd that she’s declaring a state of emergency that can free up funding and additional firefighting efforts to stem the blaze. KRQE-TV reported Monday night that a DC-10 loaded with water and extinguishing material is expected to arrive Tuesday and estimated the number of firefighters involved at nearly 1,000.
One of the hardest hits areas was the Enchanted Forest subdivision. “People who have lived here all their lives have never seen anything like it, you know, just waiting to see, is it contained what’s going to happen where it’s going,” Suzy Appel said to KRQE-TV.
Here’s a picture taken by Gabrielle Burkhart of what’s left of a home in nearby Alto, off Highway 48:
According to the Ruidoso News, an official at the Lincoln County Commission said a back burn was set earlier Monday in Nogal Canyon while winds had diminished.
“We’re going to go slowly and methodically bring fire down that area and use up fuels before the fire reaches it,” Schwope said.
Here’s a link to the 24-hour webcam atop Ski Apache in Ruidoso.
Here’s another photo of the fire, obtained through the social media:
And here’s another, courtesy of Randy Ross:
Back on Sunday, we reported that Congressman Steve Pearce had a pointed exchange with forest officials, criticizing them for letting the fire — which began with a lightning strike back on June 4 — go unextinguished in the rugged terrain for days before the blaze got away from crews.
When asked about Pearce’s remarks by KOAT-TV, Gov. Martinez said that Pearce may have a point but the discussion about forest management practices can be held once the Little Bear Fire is put out. Here’s the KOAT story with Pearce on the phone and Martinez on camera:
In the meantime, an area resident posted an interview on YouTube with Fire Chief Tom Porter of the Jack Rabbit Flats Volunteer Fire Department in Tularosa, who seemed to echo Pearce’s criticisms. The interview is a long one but here it is: