Wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico Force Hundreds to Evacuate

Firefighters in New Mexico and Colorado are battling wildfires.

ByClayton Sandell
June 11, 2012, 3:13 AM

June 11, 2012— -- Firefighters in New Mexico and Colorado are battling wildfires that have spread quickly in all directions, forcing hundreds of people to flee from their homes across both states.

In Colorado, at least 18 structures, including homes, have been destroyed, while one person is missing and feared dead, according to authorities. Flames have torched more than 30 square miles in two days.

"If you talk about worst-case scenario, this is our worst-case scenario," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said.

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated. Authorities sent at least 2,575 evacuation notices to phone numbers but it wasn't clear how many residents had to leave, according to ABC News Station KMGH-TV in Denver. About 500 people had checked in at Red Cross shelters, according to The Associated Press.

Some residents said they didn't receive any notice and their only warning was hearing the fire coming toward their doorsteps.

"It was terrible. It sounded like a hurricane," said Sandra Mullen, according to KMGH. "I think everything will be gone. My husband is 78 and I'm 75, so when you're that old, it's too hard to start over."

Resident Joanne Hertz said, "It looked like Armageddon. I have absolutely no clue if my house is still standing."

Resources are spread thin in Larimer County as other western states need tankers, helicopters and ground crews to battle their own wildfires, sheriff's spokesman Nick Christensen told KMGH.

Chief Tom Demint of the Poudre Fire Authority said, "We have thousands of acres of fire, hundreds of homes threatened, and dozens of fire engine."

In New Mexico, a destructive fire near Ruidoso tripled in size this weekend and destroyed 40 buildings. Dan Ware, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division, said evacuees were in the hundreds, but he didn't have an exact figure, according to The Associated Press.

Strong winds, meanwhile, grounded aircraft fighting the wildfire in Ruidoso, according to The Associated Press. Crews were working to build a fire line around the blaze, which started Friday.

"My faith is so deep that I know that whatever happens, it's not that it's God's fault," said Brenda Garber, who lost her home in New Mexico.

Elsewhere Sunday, firefighters were battling a wildfire that blackened 6 square miles in Wyoming's Guernsey State Park and forced the evacuation of between 500 and 1,000 campers and visitors, according to The Associated Press.

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