Lightning strikes ignite fires

By Jared Tucker: PNT Staff Writer

Firefighters in Roosevelt County had their hands full Monday afternoon with three fires officials said they believed were caused by lightning strikes.

The first two fires ignited near Floyd and burned a combined 40 acres.

The third and larger fire burned about 350 acres near Roosevelt roads 12 and U.

Firefighters from Portales, Dora, Elida, Floyd, Clovis, Arch and Causey were called out to battle the blaze, said Portales Fire Battalion Chief Lance Hill.

Fire crews had a good handle on the fire until they started running out of water in their trucks. Fortunately, officials had an adequate number of tankers and pumpers in the area and were able to refill the smaller grass fire trucks and send them back to the fire zone.

One resident assisted fire crews by using his tractor and a sweep plow to create a fire break.

At one point, it appeared crews had the fire contained, but shifting winds caused the fire to spread rapidly towards Roosevelt Road 12. Crews were successful in preventing the fire from jumping the road and spreading north and east.

Shortly after crews kept the fire from jumping the road, the winds shifted again, forcing the evacuation one family living close by. Within minutes, thick smoke blanketed Roosevelt Road 12.

That family was Laqueda Chaves, her daughter Danyka, and son Jake Perez. They gathered as much clothing as they could and evacuated quickly to the intersection of Roosevelt roads 12 and U, where fire crews staged a filling station using a tractor-trailer tanker.

Battalion Chief Hill said the family’s home was threatened, but he “had an engine sitting there, prepared to defend it.”

According to Hill, the family is back in their home tonight, and the fire is out. No injuries were reported.