Watch: Torrential rains triggers flash flooding in New Mexico village devastated by deadly wildfires

Monsoon thunderstorms on Tuesday triggered a torrent of flooding in recent burn scar areas from the South Fork Fire. Evacuation orders were issued again on Wednesday in Ruidoso village where more thunderstorms loomed later in the day.

RUIDOSO, N.M. – Flash flooding returned to the village in south-central New Mexico this week where deadly wildfires burned in June, creating torrents of muddy debris flows through neighborhoods still reeling from the fire. 

The South Fork and Salt wildfires near Ruidoso, New Mexico, and the Mescalero Apache Reserve claimed two lives and destroyed nearly 1,400 homes and structures. Between the two fires, more than 25,000 acres have been burned. 

Since then, the Southwest monsoon season began in mid-June, and the burn scars left from the massive blaze are contributing to dangerous flash flooding conditions.

"The wildfire burn scars cause the terrain to be less able to absorb water, and so torrential rain can quickly turn into a flood," FOX Weather Meteorologist Steven Morgan said.

Monsoon thunderstorms brought several inches of rain in a few hours Tuesday, triggering a torrent of flooding and a Flash Flood Emergency issued by the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

On Tuesday, areas in Ruidoso, including Cedar Creek, Upper Canyon, Brady Canyon, along the Rio Ruidoso, Paradise Canyon and Hull, were evacuated – this time due to water, not fire.

"Please do not try to protect your property or gather your belongings. Get out and move to higher ground IMMEDIATELY!" the evacuation order read.

Video taken on Tuesday shows powerful flood water sweeping away property and a garage.

The flooding caused multiple gas leaks throughout the village, and residents are told to avoid areas with gas smells.

Dangerous flash flooding conditions will persist this week, with daily rounds of thunderstorms. 

On Wednesday, the NWS issued a Flood Watch for southeast and south central New Mexico, as rainfall rates could reach up to 3 inches per hour with higher amounts in isolated areas. 

By Wednesday afternoon, local law enforcement in Ruidoso reported flash flooding along U.S. Highway 70 near Ruidoso Downs, prompting the NWS to issue another Flash Flood Emergency for the South Fork burn scar. 

Upper Canyon residents were allowed to return home for a few hours on Wednesday but told to leave again by 10 a.m. as the next round of thunderstorms and flash flooding loomed.

A Flash Flood Emergency also threatened the region in late June when heavy rainfall dumped 2.5 inches of rain in 30 minutes.

Wildland fire and law enforcement investigators recently determined lightning started the South Fork Fire.


The cause of the Salt Fire remains under investigation. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people responsible for starting the Salt Fire.