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Wildfires in New Mexico torch thousands of acres, prompt evacuations amid strong winds

By Ashley Williams
Plumes of smoke from the McBride Fire are seen in Lincoln County, N.M., on Tuesday. The blaze in Ruidoso had blackened more than 4,100 acres by early Wednesday, according to officials. Photo by U.S. Forest Service/Lincoln National Forest/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/McBrideFire2022/posts/pfbid02fmzxAAtGeqGUqjNErTom1CcjTmDKoeBXiqe7VxKSU2X14DMedjEMzhff3xrNKM4rl?__cft__[0]=AZXltkitGO0klRJ6qotwx2r7HkdaPgtUeNVkmN21pbMqOUZSxRsXbIhmg0o10lgNcFI1RK6mHWUzNjzvsUZc-6ghjSp4ypFbWoW5gFKbB8Fhrcnk07L92MxQmA-op7ijrvNaTcr3gAMK23Z41Msn0SjK-fRETjX057XppgU8HcQ7yQ&amp;__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R">Facebook</a>
Plumes of smoke from the McBride Fire are seen in Lincoln County, N.M., on Tuesday. The blaze in Ruidoso had blackened more than 4,100 acres by early Wednesday, according to officials. Photo by U.S. Forest Service/Lincoln National Forest/Facebook

April 13 (UPI) -- Multiple wildfire threats fueled by warm, dry and extremely windy weather have placed a large portion of New Mexico under a red flag fire warning this week.

As weather officials forecast strong to severe winds and low humidity for much of central and eastern New Mexico -- typically a recipe for heightened fire danger -- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted a warning Tuesday that a single spark could cause a wildfire.

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Of several fires burning in the state, one of the most severe is the McBride Fire -- which has so far burned more than 4,000 acres. It started amid 70-mph winds on Tuesday in Ruidoso in Lincoln County, which is located in the Sierra Blanca mountain range.

The blaze, which is 0% contained, forced people in several counties to evacuate and has so far destroyed more than 150 structures, including homes.

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One of the locations evacuated on Tuesday was a high school. Ruidoso Municipal Schools later said all schools would be closed for Wednesday.

The McBride Fire's proximity to a transmission line prompted utility workers to turn off power to more than 18,000 customers.

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Officials in San Miguel County had ordered evacuations in some areas on Tuesday as another blaze -- the Hermits Peak Fire -- continued moving northeast. It started last week and is 10% contained. Officials say it's torched close to 8,000 acres.

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High winds from the southwest fanned the fire toward San Ignacio, La Canada, Las Tusas and nearby areas.

Another fire, the Nogal Canyon Fire in Lincoln County, started on Tuesday and has forced mandatory evacuations. So far it's burned hundreds of acres. A different blaze in Valencia County, the Big Hole Fire, has burned close to 1,000 acres in Belen about 35 miles south of Albuquerque. Officials say it's threatened hundreds of homes and was 0% contained early Wednesday.

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