Wildfire Cleanup Begins
(Near Ruidoso, NM) -- Community members in southern New Mexico are beginning to pick up the pieces as the state's largest wildfire continues to burn. Sharon Young can't believe her home is still standing. "We're thankful that we have our house," she said. She sits in front of her property, which was built back in 1951. Everyday, she's assessing the damage caused by the Little Bear Fire that started June 4th near Ruidoso. “70 houses gone, a big activity center gone. The camp has lost numerous guests and money. From here all the way to the ski run there are houses gone. This area is really popular for vacation rentals. A lot of those cabins are gone. The impact on our tourism definitely for our county will be affected,” she said. Neighbors are beginning to pick up what's left of their properties. Many plan to rebuild, but others say they aren't too sure what they plan to do next. “When my husband’s grandfather built this house he planted those trees, that one right there and those out there and so that was in 51 so you’re looking at about 60 years of growth so in my lifetime I’ll never see a green forest again,” she said. The Little Bear fire has destroyed more than 240 homes and businesses. Authorities evacuated the area for days and now people are slowly making their way back. “It’s amazing how quickly everybody has pulled together. We’ve already gotten quotes on metals. People are already rebuilding insurance companies are already pulling through but its amazing how something like this can bring a community a lot closer together,” local business manager Sherry Gowen said. Fire crews say the Little Bear fire is almost fully contained. Recent rain gave fire fighters a break. Meanwhile, the whitewater-baldy wildfire that began May 16th continues to burn and is also close to being contained. “The firefighters are awesome, Craig Van Winkle, the fire crew, we love all those guys. They put themselves out there and you don’t really appreciate it until something like this happens and it hits so close to home,” she said.