Las Tusas wildfire in Northern New Mexico threatens homes, closes roads

May 10, 2023 - Ryan Boetel - ABQ Journal

A spring storm moved west to east across New Mexico on Wednesday, bringing high winds to the Albuquerque metro area on Wednesday, hail and thunderstorms to the Eastern Plains near Texas and a wildfire north of Las Vegas. 

The Las Tusas fire near Sapello started Wednesday afternoon and led dozens to evacuate their homes and shuttered roads. 

State Police spokesman Ray Wilson said the fire had crossed N.M. 94, near the junction with County Road A4A, and was headed east toward State Road 518. By 8 p.m., the fire had grown to an estimated 100-200 acres, destroyed some structures and was threatening others.

Wilson said 50 people have voluntarily evacuated homes along N.M. 518. 

He said N.M. 94, County Road A4A were closed due to the fire and N.M. 518 was closed at milepost 12. Wilson said voluntary evacuations are occurring along 518. Evacuees are goin to Las Vegas Abe Montoya Recreation Center and Storrie Lake State Park. 

High winds and power outages

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Albuquerque recorded a 59-mile-per-hour gust at the Albuquerque International Sunport, said Brian Guyer, a meteorologist for the weather service. 

In Albuquerque and the South Valley, there were almost 20 outages reported on the Public Service Company of New Mexico website as of about 6:15 p.m., affecting nearly 1,500 customers. Most of the reports came from the South Valley, where more than 1,300 customers were affected by five outages. 

Internet service at the Journal’s headquarters near Jefferson and Paseo del Norte was knocked offline for hours throughout the afternoon and evening. 

Guyer said the agency hadn’t had the chance to scour other places around the metro area for higher winds because the area between Clayton and Clovis was taking the brunt of the storm. 

There were reports of thunderstorms, hail, damaging winds and lightning as the front moved toward Texas. 

“We’re all-hands-on-deck right now,” Guyer said. “It’s a very dynamic spring weather system.” 

Journal staff writers Matthew Reisen and Esteban Candelaria contributed to this report.


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