Ruidoso, NM – Home of Ski Apache – On the Verge Of Destruction By Wildfire

Aunika Skogen | FireFire | Industry NewsIndustry News
Ruidoso Fire
A photo from last week of the McBride Fire glowing over the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico, near the ski village of Ruidoso. | Image:

Around noon on April 12th, all hell broke loose in the quiet ski town of Ruidoso, NM – home to Ski Apache. A combination of high winds and low snowpack has consistently contributed to the ongoing megadrought much of the west is facing, creating the perfect storm for a raging wildfire to take hold of the community.

Almost a week since the blaze sparked, firefighters continue to fight endless flames. However, the fire rages on, although it’s now 80% contained. Spanning over 6,000 acres, at least 200 structures have been destroyed and two victims, an elderly couple, have been found. Over 4,500 residents within Lincoln County were alerted of mandatory evacuations, although all evacuations have since been lifted. The Ruidoso Convention Center was been set up as an evacuation center for those evacuating the area.

The evacuations included schools and neighborhoods in Lincoln County: 

  • Moon Mountain: High Loop, Lupin, Starlight
  • Gavilan Canyon: From Highway 70 to Lower Eagle Creek
  • East of Hull: McBride, Snowcap, Timberline, Fawn Ridge
  • Homestead Acres/Lower Eagle Creek
  • Rancho Ruidoso Valley Estates, Deer Valley, Deer Park, Alto (East of Flute Player)
  • Evacuation orders remain in place while firefighters continue to work around the clock attempting to hold the line and control the flames.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but consistent high winds, dry grass, and timber have continued to fuel it. It’s continuing to gain ground and strength as strong winds from the east push the flames closer and closer to the town of Ruidoso.

“We’re trying to keep this fire as small as possible, especially because it’s right in the community,” said Incident Commander Dave Bales.

Multiple organizations have coordinated ways to support those displaced by the fire as well as for the firefighters courageously fighting the flames 24 hours a day. Customary of a small town, the village of Ruidoso has become overwhelmed by physical donations to those fighting the flames as well as its victims. The town has announced that monetary donations can be made to the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Mescalero Apache Tribe and multiple other businesses are also taking donations.

Ruidoso Displaced Residents
Victims Displaced by the McBride Fire; image:

This isn’t the first time this region has been threatened by mother nature. Almost exactly a year ago, on April 26th, 2021 a fire tore through Three Rivers, Ruidoso, and the Ski Apache area. Winds pushed this fire to the northeast sparing the town of Ruidoso.

In June of 2012, Ski Apache fell victim to a fire that destroyed over 44,000 acres and is recorded as the most destructive wildfire in New Mexico’s history. Located on their reservation, the area serves as one of the largest sources of revenue for the Mescalero Apache tribe. Not to mention the economic draw it has for the small town of Ruidoso.

This small town relies heavily on ski traffic tourism, serving as the closest town to the ski area. If winds continue to persist and firefighting crews are unable to contain the fire, it could destroy the town of Ruidoso in multiple ways. Hundreds of people could lose their homes and livelihoods. This could also have major consequences on the local economy since the combination of the town and ski area provide a large portion of income for the region. If there’s no place for people to stay, there won’t be anyone headed to the area to ski.

Unfortunately, the conditions Ruidoso is experiencing aren’t unique. Dry weather from low snowpack this winter has affected many other areas in the region. In fact, multiple other wildfires are burning right now not far from Ruidoso. And just a few months ago, a community outside Boulder, Colorado fell victim to a fast-moving grass fire powered by strong winds.

With winter coming to a close, summer is beginning to draw closer, and so is fire season. With so many areas lacking precipitation needed to prevent natural disasters this past season, the potential for future fires like these is only growing.

Ruidoso House Remains
Smoldering Remains of House in Ruidoso After the McBride Fire Passed Through; image:

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