- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on eastern New Mexico grass fire near Portales (all times local):

7 p.m.

Authorities say a grass fire in eastern New Mexico now is contained after charring an estimated 1,000 acres (1.5 square miles) and burning four structures near Portales including two homes.

They say the fire broke out around 1 p.m. Wednesday and its cause isn’t immediately known.

Portales Fire Department crews battled flames and wind gusts up to 50 mph before getting the blaze under control around 6 p.m.

People near Portales were evacuated from their homes for several hours as a precaution.

Additional crews from Roosevelt County, Clovis, Texico, Melrose, Cannon Air Force Base and Chaves County helped fight the wind-whipped fire.


4:25 p.m.

Firefighters in eastern New Mexico are dealing with strong winds as they battle a grass fire that has prompted some evacuations.

Officials with the nearby city of Portales say two shelters have been set up as residents in rural areas west of the community have been encouraged to evacuate.

There was no immediate word about the cause of the fire.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service reported top gusts in the area of 75 mph (121 kph), saying smoke from the fire was making for hazy conditions as far away as Amarillo, Texas.


11:20 a.m.

Warnings for winds that forecasters say are expected to be dangerous for travel blanketed most of New Mexico on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says the winds will make travel very difficult on north-south oriented roads such as Interstate 25, particularly for high-profile vehicles, and cause loose objects to become airborne.

Forecasters also say the winds of up to 45 mph (72.42 kph) and gusts of up to 75 mph (121 kph) will combine with low humidity and an unstable atmosphere to create critical fire conditions.

Albuquerque officials issued a health alert because of blowing dust and said people with respiratory conditions should limit outdoor activity.

In southern New Mexico, the White Sands Missile Range was closed because of high winds, with only essential personnel told to report to work.

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