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Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 8:01pm
RUIDOSO, N.M. — A year after the Little Bear Wildfire that leveled more than 250 homes and ripped through thousands of acres last June the area is still dealing with the effects from the fire.
The fire started just behind Ski Apache sparked by lightning and quickly spread out of control due to dry conditions and strong winds.
"It was very very devastating then of course you have the impact," said Ruidoso Mayor Ray Alborn.
Large smoke clouds could be seen for miles as flames tore through about 44,000 acres of dry brush destroying everything in it's path.
The fire destroyed 254 structures, leaving only fire places and charred fences where cozy mountain homes once stood.
"Most of the people are still in the process of deciding what to do," Alborn said of those that lost their homes.
Alborn said the low water levels at Bonito Lake and the reservoir have also affected summer visitors.
"They don't get to camp and fish and do the things that they normally do and hike that they normally would do along with the other areas in the forrest," he said.
When crews were working to contain the wildfire they'd use water from the lake and Alto Reservoir.
There is visible signs of the receding water at the lake and the reservoir is now completely dry.
"We are now pretty much running off of well water," Alborn said. "We've lost our surface water."
The upcoming monsoon season will help restore water levels at the lake but it will also have a negative impact on the quality of the water because of debris washing into the lake.
Too much rain can also cause flooding.
But as the area continues to rebuild, Alborn said there's still plenty for tourists to do.
"We've got the mountains the cool air the pine trees we're still open just that some things are limited," Alborn said.
The region is under level 3 fire restrictions so no open campfires are permitted and everybody is urged to follow the restrictions to keep the area safe.
Alborn urges people to use commonsense if they are in the region.