Evacuees reel from devastation of McBride Fire

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RUIDOSO, N.M. — The fires burning in Lincoln County have destroyed hundreds of homes. Families are still processing the gravity of these infernos.

Day by day is the only way. There are still thousands of people who are either without power or aren’t allowed back in their neighborhoods yet to survey the damage to their properties.

Businesses and unaffected neighbors are stepping up to help, but emotions are running high. There’s a certain feeling of uncertainty running through Ruidoso.

"I smile, but it’s – trying to be the mom, and trying to let the kids know it’s OK when it’s not really OK. It’s been tough," said Britany Zimmerman, who has two homes in Ruidoso.

She said she endured a rough start to the McBride Fire with her two young children.

"A tree fell on our other home while we were inside, and so it was really traumatic for the kids and all of us when the tree hit the home," Zimmerman said.

She lived through the Little Bear Fire in 2012, but had two less precious belongings to worry about.

"I didn’t have kids at that time, so it’s definitely different when you have kids, going through a fire and how strong you have to be as their parent," she said.

Their routine has been flipped upside down as they wait for power to return to their neighborhood.

"I’m like, ‘OK, how do we prepare for Easter?’ You know, how is that gonna look now? We had plans to enjoy our Easter egg hunt that we have locally, and so things are changing and we just have to go with it," Zimmerman said.

The McBride Fire has also taken a toll on children like Ireland Robinson. She went through a chaotic dismissal at her middle school Tuesday.

"I put my head down, and I lifted it back up and all I seen is just orange flames surrounding the school," Robinson, an eighth-grader, said.

She watched flames rip through trees outside of her school, as she safely evacuated.

"I was anxious and scared," Robinson said.

Robinson and her family are staying at a hotel in town – that was also without power for an extended time.

"It’s been a ghost town, like you still see cars driving around but it is dark outside," Robinson said.

State of emergency declared

A state of emergency has been declared for the Village of Ruidoso. If you’re looking to make donations or volunteer in some capacity, please call (575) 258-6900.

Ways to help

Several places are also accepting bottled water and non-perishable food. They include the Alamogordo Fire Department, Alamogordo Public Schools, and the Mescalero Apache Community Center.

All Pioneer Bank branches are also accepting monetary donations, along with Revolution 120 in Las Cruces.

The Community Foundation of Lincoln County has set up a PayPal account (on the homepage of their website) for those affected by the McBride and Nogal Fires. According to the foundation website, the money will go to those who need immediate assistance. Checks will also be accepted – payable to the CFLC and “shelter fund” written on the memo line. Checks may be dropped off at the Condotel Building located at 1103 Mechem Dr. in Ruidoso or mailed to PO Box 2750, Ruidoso, NM 88355.

The Otero County Fairgrounds is also accepting evacuated livestock.

Need assistance?

Those affected by the fires who need assistance should call the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at 1 (800) 432-2080. Press #2 for information or resources related to the fires. Press #4 for information regarding property damage due to the fires and other fire-related questions.