Missing person count drops to zero in Ruidoso fire crisis

All 29 individuals previously reported missing following the devastating wildfires in Ruidoso, New Mexico, have been located, according to the village’s mayor. “All the folks that we had on the missing list is now at zero,” Mayor Lynn Crawford announced at a community meeting regarding the South Fork and Salt fires.

Earlier this week, Mayor Crawford reported that over two dozen people were unaccounted for after the two wildfires, which erupted last week and led to the evacuation of the village, home to approximately 7,500 residents.

The fires, which have claimed two lives, have ravaged more than 25,000 acres in and around Ruidoso, as confirmed by New Mexico State Police. The blazes began on June 17 on the Mescalero Apache Reservation and spread eastward, driven by high temperatures and strong winds. The exact cause of the fires remains under investigation.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reported that around 1,400 structures have been impacted, with an estimated 500 homes destroyed.

Urban search and rescue teams, utilizing 20 dogs trained to detect human remains, conducted secondary searches of the affected areas. “I’m happy to report we did not find any human remains,” stated Ernie Rhodes, the urban search and rescue operation chief for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Containment efforts have seen progress due to improved weather conditions, which have helped reduce fire activity. By Thursday, the South Fork Fire was 69% contained and the Salt Fire was 66% contained, as per the New Mexico Forestry Division’s daily update.

The community continues to recover from the extensive damage, with efforts ongoing to support those affected by the wildfires.


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