Despite mandatory evacuation orders, some choose to stay as Ute Park Fire looms | KOB 4
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Despite mandatory evacuation orders, some choose to stay as Ute Park Fire looms

Emily Jaceks
June 02, 2018 07:02 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Despite the rapid growth of the Ute Park Fire and notices to evacuate, some people are choosing to stay put and protect their homes as best they can.

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After enduring other natural disasters, including hurricanes and other wildfires, Charlie and Linda Klaes said they simply feel better being home and in control. If they had children, it might be a different situation.

"If an ember comes into our yard, we got a hose and we can try and fight for our house," Linda Klaes said. "We've been in a situation where we can't come home for a couple days and there's nothing worse than that."

Firefighters have come around asking for information like their names and birthdays, and have even marked their home and a nearby stop sign with yellow tape to signal that someone has stayed behind.

According to officials, it's typical for about 1 in 10 would-be evacuees to stay put – and it's a decision even Gov. Susana Martinez is criticizing.

"For those that remain in Cimarron, think about what you're doing to the individuals that have to go back in if it gets dangerous," she said while providing an update on the fire from Eagle Nest Saturday afternoon. "I know those are your valuables. This is your home. But nothing is worth losing a life."

Fire officials say cell phone service has been spotty at best in Cimarron since the Ute Park Fire was first sparked Thursday afternoon. As a result, reverse-911 calls that serve as a last resort to alert people who chose to stay that the fire is closing in on them may not arrive.

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Emily Jaceks

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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