Scott Able Fire
Day 6 – May 16, 2000

May 16, 2000 — Cloudcroft.Com Special Report

7:00 am MDT — Winds are calm this morning in the vicinity of the Scott Able Fire, but officials expect the wind to intensify and the humidity to drop during the day. For that reason they have declared this a “Red Flag” Day in their efforts to contain the fire. The number of fire fighters has increased from around 800 yesterday to about 1200 now. The fire continues to feed on islands of unburned area within the established perimeter. The chances of the fire breaking out of the perimeter today are small, but do exist due to the changing weather conditions that are expected. 100% containment of the blaze is hoped for by tomorrow.

8:55 am MDT — The State Police still have not released the names of the two occupants of the spotter plane that went down outside Alamogordo yesterday at around 1 pm. There were no survivors in the crash.

Weather forecast for the Cloudcroft area today — SW winds 25-40 miles per hour this afternoon. Temp – 60 to 70 degrees. Humidity 10 – 15 percent. Possible new outbreaks at the North and East perimeters of the Scott Able Fire.

10:40 am MDT — The cold front passing through the mountain area is beginning to kick up the winds everyone expected, but hoped would not materialize. In the Village of Cloudcroft this morning it is business as usual with shops and the banks opening as usual, but signs of the heightened level of alert are everywhere. Bus loads of fire fighters are crowding into the convenience store to grab snacks before heading to the blaze. Fire engines have been placed strategically around town in the isolated case they are needed. Mayor Dave Venable said that they are dedicated to the Village only, to hold off damage should the worst case scenario develop.

Officials are still guardedly optimistic that they will be able to maintain containment of the Scott Able Fire despite bad fire fighting weather conditions forecast for the day. Today has been described as a “day of reckoning” for the fire. If all goes well, full containment could come as early as tomorrow. No new property damage to report this morning.

The Ruidoso News reports that Ruidoso resident Sam Tobias, 48, was one of two persons killed yesterday in the plane crash near Alamogordo. The other was the pilot Leo Kopoman, 49, of Columbia, California.

11:20 am MDT — The Forest Service has updated the Scott Able Fire as 65% contained with worrisome areas on the East and North perimeters. These are spots of most concern today since the weather will challenge fire fighting efforts. Steep and rocky terrain is also presenting a challenge. Monetary cost of the blaze thus far — $2,300,000.

12:40 pm MDT — Weather conditions are not nearly as bad as predicted for today, at least so far. Winds have not reached the velocities expected. Slurry planes are not flying to maximum capacity, indicating the front line action is going smoothly.

3:15 pm MST — Volunteers who wish to help with the distribution of goods to evacuees in Weed are asked to call (505) 682-2411. Distribution will be Saturday and Sunday at the Weed School. No new break outs reported today. Air operations have been suspended due to high winds. Some activity in the Northwest portion of the perimeter but nothing outside the established perimeter.

5:40 pm MDT — It has been a day that truly emphasizes the old cliché “no news is good news.” The Forest Service labeled it a “Red Flag” day, meaning conditions were favorable for new “incidents” that could lead to a spread of the fire. There have been no such breakouts, and the Forest Service says a new containment figure should be available this evening at around 8 pm MDT. With no new breakouts, there has been no report of any other property damage and no reports of further injuries. As many as 1200 fighters were committed to the Scott Able Fire today since officials expected the worse from the weather.

8:00 pm MDT — Three of the four persons suspected of being responsible for the Cree Fire near Ruidoso have been arrested. Reports indicate the fire began with an illegal camp fire in the outskirts of Ruidoso. Alcohol and illegal substances may have been involved which probably impeded the judgment of the group and allowed the campfire to get out of control. The Cree Fire is considered 100% under containment and is expected to be out in the next 24 hours.

Wind conditions in the Cloudcroft area are subsiding. A potentially dangerous day has passed with little incident with respect to the Scott Able Fire. One sprained ankle and one possible broken hand were reported among the human casualties. Maximum human and mechanical forces have been applied to the Scott Able Fire to keep it contained. A new press release from the National Forest Service is scheduled for tonight outlining new containment figures. No specific time for that release has been forthcoming. No reports of any new structural damage. We will post the National Forest Service press release when it becomes available.

The Ruidoso News has a report about the two men who died in the spotter plane crash.

9:00 pm MDT — Here is a map of the general area of the Scott Able Fire.

10:00 pm MDT — Cloudcroft area residents are breathing easier after a windy day with low humidity and no new outbreaks of the Scott Able Fire. The danger of new outbreaks has not passed completely, but according to the National Forest Service, today was a turn-around day in the battle of this blaze.

Day 5 Coverage

Day 7 Coverage