Some evacuees allowed to return home following McBride Fire
RUIDOSO, N.M. – On Saturday, some of the thousands of evacuees from the McBride Fire, were finally allowed to return home.
"It’s just amazing to know it is still here. This is our livelihood and we don’t have to start from ground zero," said Kenneth Witt, McBride Fire evacuee.
Witt says he and his family have been living in a hotel for three days and is more than relieved to know his home is still standing.
"Oh my gosh yeah, because when you leave you just look at your house the last time and you don’t know if you will ever see it again or what it’s going to look like. I know so many people have had that happen to them, and our thoughts and prayers are with those families and what they are dealing with right now," said Witt.
The smoke from the fire has gone down significantly compared to Friday. While crews have a lot of work ahead of them, Incident Commander Dave Bales anticipates more evacuations will be lifted shortly.
"In the next couple of days, we will continue to lift evacuations where we can get people back in," said Bales.
Bales says crews still have to focus on containing the fire and making sure there are no other downed power lines from the strong wind gusts. But he says they are working as fast as they can to get those people home, especially ahead of Sunday.
"We understand it’s Easter tomorrow, we are really trying to get folks back into their homes back to their areas of worship and just for tomorrow. We know it’s a big deal around here. We are working hard again in coordination with all the agencies here to do that," he said.
Which is what Village of Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford is also looking at, what is ahead for the village, especially for those who don’t have a home to return to.
"The village is working in conjunction with realtors, short term rentals on how we can get additional housing quickly. We are going to be working with FEMA on FEMA housing and what does that look like and how fast can that happen," said Crawford.
The heavy economic impact is also weighing heavy on the minds of everyone, summer is a very popular tourism time for Ruidoso.
"With the shortages that we already have in labor and housing, this is going to compound that issue drastically," Crawford said.
But Crawford said he is optimistic the village will pull together to make it work.