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Ute Fire in New Mexico estimated at 16,500 acres, 296 structures threatened

The smoke from the Ute Park Fire in New Mexico between Eagle Nest and Cimarron is visible on ABC 7 Amarillo's Des Moines, N.M., SkyCam. At least 1,200 acres of grass and ponderosa pine has burned, according to New Mexico Forestry. (KVII)

UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. MDT:

The Ute Park fire, burning on private land off of Highway 64 in Ute Park, N.M., is currently estimated at 16,500 acres and 0% contained.

According to the New Mexico Fire Information website, at least 296 structures are threatened. The communities of Ute Park and the Village of Cimarron are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The Red Cross is operating an evacuation center at the Eagle Nest Senior Center in Eagle Nest. They are also supporting a second evacuation center at the Raton Convention Center.

Cimarron Canyon State Park will now be closed in order to keep the roadway open for fire crews. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is still open, but the lake is closed for helicopters to fight the fire.

Highway 64, between Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron remains closed, and State Route 204 is closed at Cimarron. There may be other localized road closures in place around the fire. Red flag conditions are in effect until 8:00 p.m. tonight.

UPDATE FROM at 7:30 a.m. MDT:

This Ute Park Fire, burning on private land off of Highway 64 in Ute Park, NM, is currently estimated at 8,000 acres and zero percent contained, according to a New Mexico Forestry release.

About 12 unoccupied, non-residential structures at the Philmont Scout Ranch (Cimarroncita area) have been lost in the fire, according to the release. Another 150 structures remain threatened, officials said.

The communities of Ute Park and the Village of Cimarron are under voluntary evacuation orders. Hummingbird Lane and the surrounding area has been evacuated. Evacuation centers have been set up at the Eagle Nest Senior Center, the Cimarron Elementary/Middle School, and the Raton Convention Center, according to the forestry service release.

Highway 64, between Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron is closed, and State Route 204 is closed at Cimarron. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is open, but the lake itself is closed for helicopters to fight the fire.

Cimarron Canyon State Park is also open. A Type 1 Incident Management Team is expected to arrive later today to take over operations. Currently, there are numerous resources from State Forestry and our local and federal partners working to suppress this fire on the ground with support from 2 very large air tankers (VLAT), 6 heavy air tankers, and 4 helicopters. Red flag conditions are predicted for the fire area today, according to the release.

The cause of the fire, which started about 2:10 p.m. Thursday, remains under investigation, according to the release.

Additional updates will be posted for the duration of the fire at NMFireInfo.com

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UPDATE from a 9 p.m. news release:

This fire, burning in Colfax County, is now estimated at 4,500 acres and moving north, according to information posted to the New Mexico Fire Information website.

Approximately 150 structures are threatened in the Ute Park area.

The fire has jumped Highway 64, which is closed in both directions between Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron.

The Red Cross is providing shelter for evacuees in Eagle Nest and Cimarron. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered. Firefighters will work throughout the night to build containment lines.

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Evacuations were underway last evening in the community of Ute Park, N.M., and the surrounding areas, as fire burns through grass and ponderosa pine on state-owned land off Highway 64 in Ute Park, according to a release today from New Mexico State Forestry.

Private acreage at Philmont Scout Ranch also is burning, according to the release.

So far the Ute Park Fire, which started about 2:10 pm MDT Thursday, has burned 1,200 acres and has threatened structures in the area, the release stated. No structures had yet been affected early this morning, according to the release.

The fire is between the communities of Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron.

According to the release:

  • The Ute Park Fire is burning off of Highway 64 in Ute Park, NM.
  • Highway 64 between Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron Canyon is currently closed.
  • Approximately 50 structures are threatened and evacuations are underway for the community of Hummingbird and surrounding areas.
  • The fire is burning on private land including the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. Ranch staff report that there are no participants/Scouts at the ranch at this time and all staff are accounted for.
  • Multiple resources are working this fire on the ground with support from heavy air tankers from above. Eagle Nest Lake is closed so that firefighting aircraft can use the lake as a water source.
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