Two people have died in the McBride Fire raging in New Mexico that has scorched more than 5,000 acres in the Sierra Blanco mountain range, police said.
They were found Wednesday in a burned home in Ruidoso, New Mexico, state police said in a news release. Soon after, local police were called about a missing couple.
“Ruidoso Police Department received information about an elderly couple who attempted to evacuate the McBride Fire but were unaccounted for by family members,” officials said in the news release.
The deaths are under investigation, and the Office of the Medical Investigator is working to identify the victims, state police said.
The McBride Fire, which started Tuesday afternoon, has grown to 5,381 acres and was 0% contained as of Wednesday evening, according to the New Mexico Fire information website.
The flames have destroyed or damaged more than 200 structures, local officials said, and many Ruidoso residents were told to evacuate.
The announcement of the deaths came after fire officials said they were bracing for intensified fire activity Wednesday as several wildfires continued to rage in the state.
Five fires – the Hermit’s Peak, McBride, Overflow, Big Hole and Nogal Canyon fires – have scorched more than 13,000 acres of land in New Mexico, according to data from InciWeb.
In response, the state has received federal fire management assistance grants, which will provide resources for crews battling wildfires, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday in a statement.
“I want to assure the people of New Mexico that our local, state, federal and tribal agencies are working around the clock to make sure evacuees have the support they need as these unprecedented spring wildfires tear through our communities,” the governor said in a statement.
The largest blaze, Hermit’s Peak, saw rapid growth throughout Tuesday, scorching 6,276 acres as of Wednesday afternoon with 10% containment, according to an update posted Wednesday on the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
“Largely driven by sustained winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour with tastes up to 70 mph, the fire spread nearly six miles to the east and northeast,” officials said in the update.
The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders Tuesday and put several areas on standby, according to a SMCSO Facebook post.
Meanwhile, the Overflow Fire was 100% contained as of Wednesday after charring 1,900 acres over the past week.
The Nogal Canyon Fire, west of Capitan, was about 350 acres after sparking Wednesday, and it was 4% contained, according to InciWeb. Residents in the area were placed under mandatory evacuations.
A drop in wind speed helped firefighters working to control the flames, officials said. “Crews are working in steep, rugged terrain, which fire is able to run through the extremely dry vegetation,” an update on InciWeb said.
As for the Big Hole Fire, which scorched more than 900 acres as of Wednesday, containment has reached 40%, according to the New Mexico Fire Information website.
“Extremely dry weather and strong winds kept firefighting aircraft grounded today preventing water drops over the fire area,” officials said Wednesday.