Two Dead and 500 Homes Destroyed in New Mexico Wildfires

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.20 - 2024 7:22 AM CET

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Southern New Mexico wildfires claim two lives, destroy 500 homes, and force the evacuation of 8,000 residents.

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Two people have died in wildfires raging through southern New Mexico, which have destroyed around 500 homes and prompted the evacuation of approximately 8,000 residents from the mountain resort community of Ruidoso.

New Mexico State Police reported finding the skeletal remains of an unidentified person in the driver's seat of a burned-out car on Wednesday.

Another victim was identified as 60-year-old Patrick Pearson.

According to Reuters, the wildfires have devastated the region, making it one of the most destructive in the state's history.

Scale of Destruction

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham informed reporters that around 500 homes are believed to be among the more than 1,400 buildings destroyed by the two blazes.

The fires, known as the South Fork and Salt fires, have burned over 23,000 acres (9,308 hectares) north and south of Ruidoso.

Governor Lujan Grisham has requested a major disaster declaration from President Joe Biden to address the destruction caused by the fires.

The affected forest area is located about 135 miles southeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, and has experienced a series of wildfires in recent years, including a deadly fire in 2022.

New Mexico has been grappling with a decades-long drought, which has made wildfires more destructive and faster-moving.

In 2022, the state suffered the largest wildfire in the continental United States, which burned over 341,000 acres (138,000 hectares).