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High fire threat persists in New Mexico amid devastating blaze

ABC News

(RUIDOSO DOWNS, N.M.) -- High fire danger continues in New Mexico, as very dry weather and gusty winds are leading to an increased risk while firefighters continue to battle a deadly blaze.

For days, hundreds of firefighters have been battling the McBride Fire in the village of Ruidoso in central New Mexico.

As of Saturday morning, the McBride Fire has burned through 6,195 acres in the Gavilan Canyon within Ruidoso and remains 0% contained, according to fire officials. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fueled by timber downed by a significant wind storm, as well as brush and dry grasses on an arid landscape, the wildfire has burned 207 primary structures and multiple outbuildings since sparking Tuesday, officials said.

The bodies of two people were found in a home in Ruidoso on Wednesday, a day after the McBride Fire scorched the area, according to authorities. First responders located the bodies after family members noted that an elderly couple attempting to evacuate had been unaccounted for, police said. The couple has not yet been publicly identified.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she is "very proud" as residents have been reaching out to see what they can do to help amid the destruction.

"But there are no words to express -- that's a total loss," she told the Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT. "Can you live back there again, where will you go?"

She said the state will be an "active partner" in the recovery process.

A second, smaller fire in Nogal Canyon north of Ruidoso has burned 433 acres as of Saturday morning since sparking Tuesday and is 4% contained, fire officials said.

Fire officials were optimistic Saturday about containment efforts with both fires, after being challenged by warm weather and high winds the previous day.

"Currently, you know, we're 4% on Nogal, 0% on McBride, but you'll see those numbers increasing today," Dave Bales, incident commander for the McBride and Nogal Canyon fires, said during a briefing Saturday. "Today we expect a real successful day."

Dangerous fire conditions persist Saturday for portions of western and central New Mexico up into the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado, with a red flag warning in effect due to strong winds and low relative humidity. Wind gusts up to 50 mph are forecasted.

A voluntary evacuation order also has been issued in Larimer County in northern Colorado, as a wildfire has burned 114 acres and is 30% contained as of Saturday morning.

ABC News' Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

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