CIMARRON, N.M. — Crews battling a blaze burning in northeastern New Mexico are bracing for the return of hot and dry weather as they work to protect hundreds of homes.
Some residents are returning to their homes, but evacuation orders in other areas remain as crews try to get a handle on the fire.
Authorities announced Monday that residents of Cimarron were being allowed to return to the village in four separate groups to minimize traffic.
The threat to Cimarron has been reduced, but authorities say there are still some concerns as the fire is expected to burn for some time. The Ute Park area is still evacuated.
Forecasters expect the winds will change course and that could mean smoky conditions in the area. There’s an air quality station in Cimarron that will monitor for potential hazards.
About 500 firefighters and support crew are assigned to the Ute Park Fire. Evacuation orders remain in place for communities on the fire’s flanks. Authorities estimate 550 structures in the Cimarron area are threatened along with 219 residences around Ute Park.
No homes have burned, but some unoccupied buildings on the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Ranch were charred last week.
The fire saw some rain and higher humidity Sunday, but crews were prepared to respond to any new starts that result from lightning that came along with the weekend storm.