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Blue 2 Fire causes concern for Ruidoso businesses over Memorial Day weekend



RUIDOSO, N.M. (KRQE) – The Blue 2 Fire continues to burn just a few miles away from Ruidoso, and business owners in the area say they’re worried about the impacts it could have on the village’s tourism economy.

For the Village of Ruidoso, Memorial Day weekend is an important economic boon: “It’s huge. It is the kickoff to our busiest season of the year,” said Stephanie LeBlanc, assistant general manager of Ruidoso Vacation Rentals, “We are tourist based. We like to see it booked up here, you know, ’cause that’s how we make our money here!”

In fact, tens of thousands of people were expected to flock to the scenic mountain area this holiday weekend. “Everybody was aware that there was an expectation that there could be up to 70,000 people here for the weekend,” said Loretta Benavidez, public information officer for Incident Management Team 3 on the Blue 2 Fire.

However, the excitement for the incoming crowds turned to concern when the Blue 2 Fire broke out on May 16 just eight miles north of town.

“As of today, we are at 6,863 acres and we have 532 personnel assigned to the fire. We’re still showing 0 percent containment, and we do have 11 crews, 23 engines, four helicopters, and two bulldozers currently assigned,” Benavidez said.

LeBlanc says Ruidoso Vacation Rentals manages roughly 200 properties in the area and has already fielded many calls from worried vacationers: “We have had to move some reservations out due to people that were just so worried about the situation, making different plans, but we were booked fully for the Memorial Day weekend.”

Out of hundreds of properties, she says only ten to 15 faced potential evacuation. “We did have to update guests on evacuation status. So we have properties in Alto and the Sun Valley area and we did have to let them know that they could possibly be evacuated,” LeBlanc said.

Luckily, none of their guests had to leave; but, the encroaching fire and smoke-filled air are putting a damper on the weekend. LeBlanc says there are long-term fears, too: “There you go with burn scars, you know? These views, people come for these views and how beautiful and serene it is and it just gets in the way of that.”

Officials say the Blue 2 Fire was caused by lightning and is still zero percent contained. Firefighters battled it from the air Monday with water and flame retardant. For updates on areas of evacuation, head to Lincoln County’s website.



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