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READOUT: Heinrich, Luján Visit Ruidoso, Meet with Firefighters, First Responders, Local and Tribal Leaders, & Families Impacted by South Fork and Salt Fires


RUIDOSO, N.M. – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) met with families, local and Tribal leaders, firefighters, first responders, and emergency operation commanders in Roswell, Ruidoso, and the Mescalero Apache Reservation, discussing the response to and impacts of the South Fork and Salt Fires currently burning in New Mexico. 

Heinrich, Luján Visit to Ruidoso

PHOTO: U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) meet with local leaders and emergency responders to discuss the South Fork and Salt Fires, June 18, 2024.

“These fires have already had devastating impacts on thousands of New Mexicans and continue to threaten beloved communities. I am so grateful for the wildland firefighters, first responders, and local and Tribal leaders who are working around the clock to keep New Mexicans safe,” said Heinrich. “Reflecting on my conversations with evacuated families today, I am floored by their resilience and resolve. The quick action and open arms that have welcomed these families into neighboring communities is also a reminder that New Mexico steps up for those in need. Despite the moisture we have received in the last couple days, the fires and floods are still very dangerous. I urge all impacted New Mexicans to continue heeding evacuation orders and following directions from local authorities. Together, we will do everything we can to keep each other safe.”

“Today, Senator Heinrich and I stood shoulder to shoulder with our community in Southeastern New Mexico. Not only did we see the heart-wrenching destruction these fires have caused, we saw a community in action. Our brave firefighters and first responders are operating in the most treacherous conditions, battling these fires around the clock. New Mexicans are opening up their doors and lending a hand to those in their darkest moments. We also sat down with local leaders to hear what they’ll need in order to begin the recovery process. These wildfires upended the lives of far too many New Mexicans, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and disrupting livelihoods,” said Luján. “I’ve been inspired by the generosity that we always see in challenging times – neighbors helping neighbors, caring for the elderly, doing whatever possible to make sure those around us are safe and accounted for. While the recovery will take time, New Mexicans are strong and resilient and we will get through this. I’ve been proud to help secure federal assistance through the Major Disaster Declaration and will continue pushing for more assistance wherever possible.”

The senators began their visit at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, where they toured one of the Red Cross shelters that is hosting evacuees from the fires. They were accompanied by local emergency response leaders who are coordinating efforts on the ground. There are currently multiple evacuation shelters set up in Roswell, Capitan, Carrizozo, Alamogordo, Mescalero, and Socorro. 

Next, they had a working lunch with county and city leaders and emergency operation commanders in Roswell to learn about the ways Chaves County and Roswell are working together to provide assistance to evacuees. 

At the Emergency Operation Center in Ruidoso, the senators met with Lincoln County and Village of Ruidoso elected officials and emergency response teams and received a briefing on the current damage and losses. They also discussed concerns and priorities for recovery.

Next, the senators received a briefing from the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5, which is managing the firefighting operations. There are currently more than 1,000 personnel engaged in the effort to fight the fires.

The senators finished their tour by visiting a shelter at the Mescalero Community Center and meeting with Mescalero Apache Tribe President Thora Walsh Padilla and Tribal leaders.


Yesterday, Heinrich, Luján, and the entire New Mexico Congressional Delegation announced that President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico in the wake of severe fires burning in Lincoln County, Otero County, and the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

On Wednesday, the entire New Mexico Congressional delegation sent a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to approve a Major Disaster Declaration request from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. 

For an interactive map of active wildfire information from around New Mexico, visit theWildfire Preparedness & Prevention Resource Center on Heinrich’s website. Click here for resource document from Luján’s office for Lincoln County, Otero County, and the Mescalero Apache Reservation. 

For timely and accurate information from federal and state agencies in New Mexico on fires, restrictions, and evacuation orders at or visit the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's 2024 Wildfire Page. For questions and timely information about the South Fork and Salt Fires, and resources available, call 1-833-NMFIRE6 (1-833-663-4736).