Rapid Response Team Deploys After New Mexico Wildfires

Rapid Response Team Deploys After New Mexico Wildfires

Two wildfires have devastated the resort town of Ruidoso, New Mexico.

The Salt Fire has burned over 7,000 acres, and the South Fork Fire has burned more than 17,000. Combined, the fires have claimed at least two lives and destroyed approximately 1,500 structures, including up to 500 homes.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) is deploying alongside Samaritan’s Purse to minister spiritually to the people of Ruidoso in the midst of their hardship.

“We stand with the people of Ruidoso who have suffered such heartbreaking loss from this wildfire,” said Josh Holland, international director of the BG-RRT. “The devastation brought by such fires is profound, affecting both lives and properties. In the midst of this tragedy, we want to remind those impacted that God’s presence and comfort are ever-present. Our crisis-trained chaplains will be there to offer emotional and spiritual support, helping the community navigate through this challenging time.”

Thousands evacuated Ruidoso to escape the blaze. “It was absolute sheer terror, like I thought we were going to die,” resident Belinda Bukovitz told The Associated Press. Traffic backed up in the mountain town’s streets. At one point, Bukovitz considered getting out of her car, getting her son and jumping in the river by the road to escape the flames.

Extraordinarily hot and dry weather for months created the perfect environment for the fires to spread beyond control. One of those who died was Patrick Pearson, a 60-year-old grandfather of seven. Several other residents remain unaccounted for as authorities are allowing people to return to certain areas of the village.

“The immense loss this community faces is heartbreaking,” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook. “Pray with us for these communities and each hurting family.”

Above: A charred car and the remains of the Swiss Chalet Hotel in the aftermath of the South Fork Fire in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Photo: Andres Leighton / Associated Press

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