- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez directed the New Mexico National Guard on Saturday to begin patrolling around communities affected by a wildfire that has destroyed two dozen homes.

Martinez made the announcement at a public meeting she held with fire responders in Tijeras.

“As our coordinated response to the Dog Head Fire moves forward around the clock, the health and safety of New Mexicans continues to be our top priority,” Martinez said in a statement.

Guardsmen have been ordered to protect evacuated homes from looting and other hazards. They also will be expected to assist with potential flooding including hauling sandbags if needed.

Martinez previously declared a state of emergency to clear the way for more state resources to battle the fire in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque.

More than 740 firefighters have been working to reinforce holding lines. According to fire officials, crews took advantage of cooler weather overnight to strengthen fire lines along the western and southern boundaries of the fire. However, hot and dry conditions and light winds in the afternoon could cause the fire to become more active.

The containment for the fire remains at zero.

Since Tuesday, the fire has burned more than 27 square miles about 6 miles northwest of Tajique, affecting rural, mountain communities. The damage includes 24 homes and nearly as many structures near the small community of Chilili.

The cause is under investigation.

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