Forest fire puts New Mexico on alert: 7,000 people evacuated due to rapid advance

Residents of a town in southern New Mexico were ordered to leave their homes on Monday, June 17, with no time to gather belongings due to a fast-moving wildfire.

“LEAVE NOW: Do not try to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” the authorities of Ruidoso, a town of about 7,000 inhabitants, indicated on their website and on social networks around 7:00 p.m.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico turned off power to part of the town due to the fire, which had reached at least 2 square miles (5.1 square kilometers) at the time of the evacuation, according to KOAT-TV.

The glow of the fire could be seen on Monday night from a webcam located in the center of town, where the lights were still on.

The South Fork Fire started Monday on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Ruidoso is located about 75 miles (121 kilometers) west of Roswell, where several evacuation centers have been set up.

The smoke caused an air quality alert for very unhealthy levels in Ruidoso and the surrounding area.

Reports indicate that the fire started on Monday afternoon and spread quickly along with dense smoke. It should be noted that multiple structures in the New Mexico town remain at risk of serious damage.

The fire has consumed more than 4,500 acres and there is zero percent containment, according to local media.

Videos showed huge lines of hundreds of cars trying to evacuate the town while the sky was covered in smoke and red lights, a reflection of the fire that affected the area.

At the moment there is no clear report of victims, injuries or properties affected by the strong fire in the United States, which in the coming days expects a strong heat wave that could contribute to more forest fires.