Published: 3:26 pm, Tue. Feb. 28th, 2017Updated: 11:14 pm
Firefighters with the Artesia Fire Department and area volunteer departments worked desperately this afternoon to fully extinguish a fire burning on Billy Drive off of South 13th Street.
Crews continue this evening to put out the last remnants of the larger fire, which was considered contained around 4 p.m.
At tonight’s meeting of the Artesia City Council, Fire Marshal Brenden Harvey reported the fire had affected approximately 10 acres, with two homes and approximately eight sheds or other outdoor structures destroyed.
No injuries were reported.
Harvey told the council the AFD was assisted by the Atoka, Cottonwood, Riverside, Sun Country, Happy Valley and La Huerta Volunteer Fire Departments, with additional assistance in the form of engines and/or volunteers from the Carlsbad Fire Department, District 8 from the Roswell Correctional Center, the Roswell Fire Department, the Midway Volunteer Fire Department, and the Eddy County Road Department.
AFD Division Chief of Training and Safety Rick Burks also expressed the department’s thanks to KC Enterprises, which provided water.
According to witness reports, the blaze originated as a brush fire and spread to a trailer located just behind a home. Artesia Police Department and New Mexico State Police officers, and Eddy County Sheriff’s Office deputies could be seen frantically pounding on doors in the area, urging people to evacuate.
Meanwhile, neighbors on the opposite side of the street were in their yards attempting to wet down their properties in anticipation of the fire’s possible spread.
The high winds in Artesia today, with gusts to around 50-60 mph, are making controlling the fire a monumental effort for the departments.
Residents in the vicinity were being asked to evacuate to the Eddy County Fairgrounds Community Building, where the Red Cross and volunteers from the community are currently gathering water and other necessities, and law enforcement is on hand to answer any questions and provide information.
Motorists were urged not to drive in the area, where not only has law enforcement established a perimeter but thick, black clouds of smoke were blowing across roadways, severely limiting visibility.
Additional details will be posted as they become available.