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‘Little Bear’ Wildfire Grows To 26,000 Acres

The “Little Bear” wildfire just north of Ruidoso has now burned more than 26,000 acres with no containment, according to officials in Ruidoso

Officials said the community of Ruidoso and the Ski Apache resort are currently threatened by the flames and local evacuations are in effect.

As of 5:30 Sunday morning, the fire has grown by 7,000 acres in a 24 hour period.

According to Incident Management Team officials, 20 to 25 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

Snow blowers in Ski Apache were seen on the resort’s webcam website blowing water on the surrounding structures as smoke billowed just a few hundred yards from the resort.

The team’s spokeswoman, Linda Kearns, said Mother Nature is working against the fire crews that are fighting flames.

“There’s heat, low humidity, plus it’s steep terrain out there,” said Kearns.

Kearns said three helicopters and two air tankers were being dispatched on Saturday morning.

Officials in Ruidoso are sharing resources as the “Whitewater Baldy” fire, the biggest in New Mexico state history, continues to burn.

Kearns said they are dealing with the addition of technical problems at the command center.

”Our phone systems are having problems right now, we are working to get some that work,” said Kearns.

A communication crisis during a time of emergency put an even bigger burden on Ruidoso area residents and visitors.

Marguerite Gonzales drove from Las Cruces with her family for her daughter’s weekend-long softball tournament, but she said softball is the last thing on her mind.

”I’m kind of worried about all our parents and trying to find all our coaches to make sure everyone is OK,” said Gonzales. ”We’re driving and when we get cell service we’ll stop, but we just can’t get through.”

After witnessing the intensity of the flames, Gonzales said she decided to head back to Las Cruces.

“It looked like a ball of fire just rolling over the top of the mountain. It was neat to see but kinda scary because the flames were huge and they were high,” said Gonzales.

Resident Greg Morrow said he’s staying put.

“It’s become a routine. It seems like there is always some (fire) burning in New Mexico or Arizona every summer,” said Morrow. “Now, our biggest concern is the lack of information. We have no cell service or internet access.”

For more information on road closures, click here.

Slideshow of Little Bear fire: click here.

There will be a public meeting Sunday afternoon at 4:30 PM at the Ruidoso High School gym. Governor Susanna Martinez will be in attendance.

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