Weekend fires sweep county

Russell Anglin

A series of wildfires swept Quay County over the weekend, burning tens of thousands of acres and leaving Tucumcari without power for almost six hours Sunday.

The biggest blaze, which occurred along the Curry and Quay County line, was actually four separate fires at one point, according to Forrest Fire Chief Ray Rush. According to Rush, 22 different fire departments from New Mexico and West Texas worked to put out the fire which was declared extinguished Monday morning.

“There was no occupied structures burned. (There were) probably about seven unoccupied structures. The worst loss was probably grass, utility poles and fences, and I know at least one guy lost 22 head of steers in it,” Rush said Tuesday. “No one got hurt.”

According to Xcel Energy Spokesman Wes Reeves, the fire spread to a transmission line, “badly damaging or destroying 10 transmission poles about six miles from Forrest” at around 8 a.m. Friday. The result was a power outage that covered Tucumcari in its entirety, closing gas stations, restaurants and other businesses. The city lost power just before 9 a.m. and began experiencing restoration shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Rush said the cause of the wildfires has not been determined. He said a number of local businesses and individuals showed their support for area firefighters by donating food and water. He expressed gratitude for those volunteers and the fire departments that responded to the call.

“I’d been out of the fire department for 12 hours. I came back and I couldn’t believe all the stuff that was sent up there for people fighting the fire,” he said.

“The community pulled together, I must say. It was awesome, it really was,” Forrest resident Monika Garrett said.

A separate grassfire closed State Highway 469 just south of San Jon at around 2:40 p.m. for 30 minutes. Assistant Fire Chief Craig Brashear said the fire spanned about 50 acres and that the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Firefighters and residents can hope the worst is over for fires in Quay County.

“We can hope that but I don’t think it’s going to be until it starts raining,” Rush said.