CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A grassfire burned about 5,000 acres Tuesday afternoon near Melrose. The fire was contained after about three hours. Melrose Mayor Tuck Monk said the fire is believed to have started off the side of the highway by either sparks from a vehicle or a discarded cigarette.
A grass fire east of Melrose Tuesday burned about 5,000 acres before firefighters were able to gain control of it.
Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said after about three hours, fire crews were able to stop the fire that started about 11 a.m. east of Melrose along U.S. 60/84.
Melrose Mayor Tuck Monk said there were no injuries, no homes burned and no known loss of livestock associated with the fire.
Monk said the fire is believed to have started off the side of the highway by either sparks from a vehicle or a discarded cigarette.
“This whole county is just a tinderbox,” he said. “This whole area around here’s just waiting to burn.”
The state forestry division estimated fire damage at 5,000 acres.
Multiple firefighting units from Melrose, Clovis, Portales and other surrounding communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties responded.
The fire was stopped around County roads AB and 13, and burned an area of about 5 by 3 miles, Westerman said.
Westerman said while the fire was, “pretty big,” it was moderate by comparison to an April 17 fire that burned south of Clovis and consumed more than 70,000 acres.
The fire started on about 30 acres but, Westerman said, “I think the wind got the best of them again and it took off on them.”
Local residents and county road crews used heavy equipment to cut fire lines and roadways also helped to stop the fire.
There were as many as three residences in the path of the blaze, but they were spared, Westerman said.
Monk said the blaze began about five miles east of Melrose.
The area in the path of the blaze is primarily grassland.
“It’s pretty sparsely populated out there,” Monk said.
He said the biggest challenge being faced by firefighters was sandy soil.
“They (were) having hard time getting around in it,” he said.