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Family mourns loss, father dies in South Fork Fire

Pearson Family

RUIDOSO, NM (KVIA) -- New Mexico officials reported Wednesday that two people have died as a result of the South Fork Fire. The first death was confirmed by the New Mexico Governor's Office and identified as 60-year-old Patrick Pearson.

Patrick Pearson was living in Ruidoso at the time and had been a musician in New Mexico for 35 years. He is described by his family as loving and caring with a heart of gold. Pearson's sudden death has left his loved ones in shock.

Our news partners, KOAT, spoke to his son, Zach Pearson, who is shocked by the news, “My dad was a simple man. You know, he didn't need much to make him happy,” he said. “It's still unbelievable that this has happened. All I know is my dad is gone now.”

Patrick Pearson had been staying at the Swiss Chalet Inn when the wildfires broke out. His family says they desperately tried to locate him as soon as they heard of the fires. “Once we found out where the fire was and the direction it looked like it was going, my sisters, my mom, and I started contacting shelters in Roswell. We attempted to contact him in Capitan, but nobody was able to confirm whether or not he was there,” Pearson recounted.

Patrick, who was recovering from an injury, faced difficulties when evacuating. “He was trying to get away from the fires as fast as he could, but with a broken leg and a brace, using a walker, trying to carry what he could. You know, it's heartbreaking,” said Pearson.

His family is now struggling to cope with the loss, but they find comfort in remembering Patrick's passion for music. “He's got one of the best voices New Mexico has ever heard,” his son said.

Patrick Pearson’s legacy lives on through his music, and his voice will be remembered by many. A friend of Patrick told KOAT that Patrick was still playing music until just last Saturday.

The South Fork Fire and Salt Fire continue to be a significant threat, and authorities are urging residents to stay alert and follow evacuation orders as necessary.

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Isabella Martinez


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