Fire forces evacuations

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Floyd Public School students got a scare on Wednesday with a fire blazing through south Melrose and north of Floyd and school administrators had to evacuate the students shortly after 1 p.m.

Associated Press reports stated that the fire burned more than 35,000 acres in the Floyd area.

The entire eastern New Mexico plains was flooded with responses from several fire department’s fire fighters responding to the fire.

As of 4:30 p.m. CAFB officials did not know the cause of the fire and there was a report of one injury.

The individual had respiratory problems and was treated and released.

According to a Cannon Air Force Base release, the fire originated at the Melrose Bombing Range and made its way southeast causing law enforcement to inform Floyd village residents to voluntarily evacuate.

Floyd has approximately 78 residents.

There are approximately 235 students from grades K-12 who had to be evacuated on Wednesday. Students were evacuated on school buses.

Fire fighters for the Melrose, Floyd, Elida, Clovis, Portales, Fort Sumner, Arch, Causey and Cannon Air Force Base Departments went out to the area to try to stop the fire.

AP reports said there were approximately 200 fire fighters which had to work against winds of more than 20 mph with gusts much higher.

Floyd school officials informed students the school would need to be evacuated at approximately 1 p.m. Floyd senior Kelli Johnson said her and her classmates were eating lunch when they were notified of a 1 p.m. meeting in the cafeteria to evacuate the school.

“We already knew about the fire because we could smell the smoke in the hallways,” Johnson said.

“A state police officer came in and told us we had to evacuate.”

Johnson said students had to be evacuated to the Terry Dairy, north of Floyd, to wait out the fire. She said while she was at school she walked outside to go to one of her classes and saw and had a perfect view of the fire west of Floyd.

“We (students) could see all of the smoke and it made it cloudy,” Johnson said. “It was unreal. It moved miles. Some of the kids were terrified.”

Ron Windom, superintendent at the Melrose Public Schools, said the school operated its normal hours.

He said it was to his understanding that the fire was 12 miles out of Melrose and it was not necessary to evacuate the school.

Windom said there are approximately 250 students, kindergarten through 12th grade.

The fire traveled southeast towards Floyd posing no danger to the Melrose residents.