One of the largest grass fires in New Mexico State history has forced the evacuation of two communities and burned an estimated 70-thousand acres. The fire is about 100 miles West of Lubbock in Southeastern New Mexico between Tatum and Lovington on Highway 206.
The Lovington fire department tells NewsChannel 11 the blaze started this morning around 11:30, Texas time and spread quickly. Raging winds near 60 miles an hour forced flames toward the Texas State line. Authorities have enforced a mandatory evacuation for the communities of McDonald and Prairie View. We're told that evacuations started around 5:30 this evening. The Tatum fire department says 70-thousand acres are destroyed, as well as at least two structures.
The fire was contained about 10:00pm. The Yoakum County Sheriff says the people in Plains and Brownfield were not in danger of seeing the fire. Lovington fire department headed the fire fight with 50-70 firefighters on scene. Two structures have been lost, one was the McDonald Post Office. One injury has been reported from a farmer who was trying to protect his home. He has been sent to a Lubbock hospital, where he is listed in stable condition at this hour. So far, there is no word at this time as to how many houses have been lost.
People closet to Tatum were being evacuated to the community center, and those closest to Lovington went to the junior high school cafeteria. Wind was a factor in fanning the fire. The wind carried the smell of smoke and even ashes over 100 hundreds miles to Lubbock.
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