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New Mexico wildfire, which prompted thousands to evacuate, results in at least one fatality, according to the governor’s office

A helicopter flies over a wildfire in Ruidoso (Via Amelia Grint/Shutterstock)

Thousands of residents in southern New Mexico evacuated a mountainous village as a wildfire driven by strong winds destroyed homes and other buildings, resulting in at least one fatality. Officials cautioned that the threat continues.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency for Ruidoso and nearby tribal lands, deploying National Guard troops. A specialized fire management team is set to assume control on Wednesday, with ongoing challenges expected due to wind conditions.

While confirming the fatality, the governor’s office provided no further details. Christy Hood, a local real estate agent, described the sudden evacuation order, which allowed her family only enough time to gather their children and pets amid approaching flames.

“As we fled, flames surrounded us. Animals were fleeing everywhere, trying to escape,” she recounted.

Smoke from a wildfire rises over the mountains (Via Amelia Grint/Shutterstock)

The journey out of Ruidoso turned into a stressful two-hour drive due to heavy traffic caused by the emergency.

Hood vividly described the scene: “The sky was glowing orange—it looked apocalyptic. It was frightening, with sparks falling around us.”

Over 500 structures have been destroyed or damaged, though the extent of residential losses remains unclear. A flyover scheduled for Tuesday night aimed to provide precise mapping and damage assessment, as direct access to the fire area is currently unsafe.

Governor Lujan Grisham emphasized that the emergency declaration enables access to funding and resources necessary to manage the crisis in Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The combined area affected by the fires exceeds 31 square miles (80 square kilometers).

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