RATON, TRINIDAD- A massive wildfire that blew up on Sunday on the Colorado/New Mexico border has repeatedly closed I-25, north and southbound, as dense, choking smoke blew across the highway.
By Monday, the fire had jumped over the highway, west to east, burning on both sides and making a run toward Barlett Mesa and into Colorado.
As of press time Wednesday, the fire had burned over 24,534 acres, and was five percent contained. The cause of the fire is still unknown. Over 500 firefighters are fighting the blaze through steep canyonlands. Air tankers, including a DC-10 Supertanker and a Blackhawk helicopter have been used west of Raton, with good results.
At least two homes have been destroyed, plus eleven other structures, and 500 people had been evacuated from Raton suburbs. The fire moved south of Horse Mesa, prompting another mandatory evacuation for residents in the area. Colfax County Sheriff’s Department and New Mexico State Police went door to door to notify residents. Electrical power to Raton has been off and on as power was transferred from a threatened station.
Southbound I-25 is closed at the Starkville exit, mile marker 11, south of Trinidad. Traffic is being detoured both east and west over U.S. Hwy. 160 at Walsenburg. There is no estimate on when I-25 will re-open over Raton Pass. Truckers halted by the closure say the detours extend an extra 100-plus miles and add several hours to their trips.