New Mexico Officials Warn Against Drinking Public Water

Two wildfires in Southern New Mexico have destroyed 1,400 houses and evacuated thousands of people. The fires have devoured more than 20,000 acres of man-made structures and nature. 

The flames, which started on Monday, have killed at least one person. The larger fire, known as the South Fork fire, quickly spread and had “extreme fire behavior.” It was found in the Mescalero Apache tribe region. On Tuesday night, it had spread across almost 15,000 acres and leveled 1,400 buildings. Just a short distance away, on tribal grounds in mainly inaccessible mountainous terrain, another fire—the Salt Fire—was found. As of Tuesday night, around 8,000 residents of Ruidoso and the neighboring areas had been forced to leave their homes. 

Authorities are still examining the causes of the two fires, which were declared as completely extinguished on Tuesday evening.

Uncontrolled wildfires have burned around 20,000 acres in southern New Mexico since Monday, prompting Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to proclaim a state of emergency. 

In addition to producing approximately 500 cases of property damage, the fire compelled the whole hamlet of Ruidoso to evacuate. New Mexico’s Department of Health officials and the Drinking Water Bureau, concerned about possible pollution, issued a precautionary water alert for more than 24,000 individuals in regions affected by the fires.

Authorities also requested that everyone using a private well in the vicinity of the fires have it tested by a licensed water testing facility for bacteria and other possible pollutants. 

Water can be used to wash clothes or for other non-drinking purposes. Authorities warn against bathing with any open cuts, especially if anyone has a compromised immune system.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Grisham warned locals to stay away from the regions affected by the flames and pledged to use every resource available to put out the two enormous and yet uncontrolled inferno.