- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

TIMBERON, N.M. (AP) - Exploding propane tanks Thursday kept firefighters from confirming the extent of damage in and around a southern New Mexico mountain village of Timberon where authorities said a wildfire apparently burned multiple homes.

Firefighters’ operations also were hindered by downed power lines in the area, according to state officials.

There are no reported injuries, the fire’s cause hadn’t been determined and there was no estimate when the fire would be contained.

The blaze led Gov. Susana Martinez to activate the state’s emergency operations center to help coordinate the response. Federal officials approved her request for funds to help cover the cost of firefighting efforts.

Martinez was briefed by incident commanders Thursday after flying over the fire, which had charred nearly half of a square mile.

“Sadly, the fire may have already destroyed more than a dozen homes, and many more are at risk,” she said. “I ask New Mexicans to join me in praying for the residents of Timberon.”

Otero County Sheriff Benny House told The Associated Press during a telephone interview that he saw about 15 burned structures while viewing just the fire’s perimeter Wednesday night and that many appeared to have been homes. There may have been additional burned structures in the interior of the fire area, he said.

The area consisted of wooded hilly terrain, House said. Timberon is 25 miles southeast of Alamogordo.

A multiagency team was arriving to take command of the incident by late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Deputies went door to door Wednesday to recommend that residents evacuate, House said. Many homes in Timberon are not owners’ primary residences, he said.

Several dozen Timberon residents spent the night in an evacuation shelter in Cloudcroft. But House said many people had other places to stay or weren’t in the area.


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