Southwest Area Incident Command Team 2 leader Dave Bales briefs the media on the McBride Fire in Ruidoso on Thursday morning . At left is Lincoln National Forest spokesperson Laura Rabon. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)




RUIDOSO — Fire officials said Thursday morning that at least 207 homes plus additional structures have been destroyed in the McBride Fire, which remains zero percent contained and is moving northeast from the village of Ruidoso.

That marked an increase in destruction from the day before, when authorities were reporting that 150 total structures, including residences and other buildings, had been destroyed.

The fire has also claimed two lives. A couple’s remains were found Wednesday within a part of town that had been ordered to be evacuated, said Kerry Gladden, a spokeswoman for Ruidoso.

She said authorities don’t believe there are any other missing persons near the fire.

Roughly 4,500 people who live in and around Ruidoso are currently under an evacuation order.

The fire jumped Gavilan Canyon Road Wednesday evening, which prompted another round of evacuations and threatened more homes. Gladden said fire crews were able to stop that fire from reaching some of the more populated areas, including several mobile home and RV parks in the area.

The fire has grown to 5,736 acres. It started around noon on Tuesday near Hull Road and Warrior Drive in Ruidoso and now stretches northeast to Eagle Creek Canyon Road in Alto.

The destruction from the fire is the worst in the Ruidoso area since the Little Bear Fire in 2012.

That fire destroyed 242 homes and 12 structures. It burned a total of 44,330 acres, according to a Forest Service summary report on the fire.

Early Thursday morning, a Southwest Incident Management Team assumed command of the McBride Fire, as well as the Nogal Canyon Fire that is burning northwest of Ruidoso.

“It’s right within the communities,” Dave Bales, who took over as incident commander on Thursday, said of the fires. “We’ve had a lot of structure loss. Our crews are right at the front line going as direct as possible.”

The Nogal Canyon Fire has burned 345 acres and destroyed six homes and eight other structures. That fire was 4% contained and has also led to evacuations in the areas surrounding the fire.

Bales said there are currently about 250 personnel fighting the McBride, but additional crews and resources have been requested and the size of the team is expected to grow in the coming days.

He said there are currently five hot shot crews assigned to the fire, as well as numerous aircraft that are expected to help in the fire fight on Thursday.