New Mexico Fire Victims Return to Ash Instead of Homes - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/3/06

New Mexico Fire Victims Return to Ash Instead of Homes

In New Mexico, fire fighters are watching for hot spots after destructive fires there. Four blazes scorched more than 53,000 acres and burned 11 homes and two businesses in Southeastern New Mexico this weekend. Just more than 100 miles southwest of Lubbock, residents in Hobbs, New Mexico are returning to their homes only to find ashes. Five hundred people were evacuated. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire went to Hobbs and gives us a firsthand look at the damage.

Homeowner Stephenee Lindsey is sifting through the ashes of what was her grandmother's house. "Where the other man is, that was my grandma's bedroom and it's all gone," she said.

Anything worth saving goes into a save pile. "This is the third day and this is the hardest day of my life because you're numbness is going away and reality's setting in a and it's all gone. It's gone."

Lindsey's house is just 100 yards away. The wildfire didn't destroy it, but it has extensive smoke damage.

The land about a mile east had a home and a greenhouse business, both are now destroyed.

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Hobbs Police Commander Donnie Graham has seen many grass fires, but none of that magnitude. "Never have we seen destruction like this. Eleven homes in one day in one small area."

The fire started 30 miles west of Hobbs and was able to move so quickly because brush found most everywhere is fuel for the fire. Graham said, "One of the messages we want to get out is to try to keep your home clear of any fuel, dry brush anything like that, about 100 feet perimeter around your home."

The fire burned 22,000 acres, Lindsey says she's seen such damage on TV, but never thought those images would become her reality. "I've seen people like this and tried to send help, but never, until it happens to you, you don't know what to do," she said.

Firefighters will have to continue to keep a close watch on the charred areas as long as the windy and dry conditions persist. Most of the 500 people who were evacuated have been allowed back, however nursing home residents have not been allowed to return.

Fire Destroys Two Lubbock Homes, Damages Another
It started with just one fire in a central Lubbock backyard, and by the time it was over, it destroyed two houses, damaged one and left two families homeless. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire was on the scene and has more.

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