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Homes destroyed, many threatened in Raton NM by Track Fire. I-25 traffic diverted. Photos.

Update on Track Fire at Raton, New Mexico:

RATON, N.M. — Around 200 homes are being threatened by a 24,000-acre fire in the area of Raton Pass, west of Interstate 25.  12 structures charred so far.

At a public meeting on Tuesday afternoon, residents learned that they would not be allowed to go back to their homes until at least Wednesday.

The fire forced the closure of Interstate 25 in Raton Pass in both directions.New Mexico State Police provided new detours around the Track Fire on Tuesday morning:

Northbound Traffic:

From I-25 travel east on US Highway 64 to Capulin, NM
Continue on US Highway 64 to Des Moines, NM
In Des Moines turn north onto NM Highway 325 to Folsom, NM
At Folsom turn right onto NM Highway 456 then continue onto NM Highway 551 to Branson, CO

Southbound Traffic:

From Branson, travel east on NM Highway 551 then NM Highway 456 to Folsom, NM
At Folsom travel south on NM Highway 325 to Capulin, NM
In Capulin turn right (west) on US Highway 64 to Raton, NM

Evacuations were ordered for northern Raton, north of I-25, County Road 72 and Sugarite State Park. The Red Cross set up a shelter at the Raton Convention Center.

Twelve structures, including at least two homes, have been damaged or destroyed, according to the mayor of Raton. The Track Fire actively torched and made runs through heavy vegetation, firefighters said. They said there was some spotting to the north of the fire.

“I would say it looks like a big, old bomb just went off out there in the mountains,” Raton resident Juan Sarinana said.

Crews said fire activity had increased substantially on Monday morning. Air tankers were used in the areas west of Raton with good results, but heavy smoke was still present Monday afternoon.

Power was out to Raton late Monday morning because crews transferred power transmission from a threatened power line.

The fire started on the west side of I-25 Sunday afternoon and jumped to the east side, making a run toward Barlett Mesa and toward Colorado, according to New Mexico Forestry spokesman Dan Ware.

State Forestry; the Raton, Angel Fire, Folsom, and Philmont fire departments; the Red River Fire Chasers and other agencies responded to the fire. In all, 75 fire workers and two air tankers battled the blaze.

Fire officials said the black smoke was either live vegetation or a structure. This fire was not contained, and officials said Monday night that there were fires burning on either side of the I-25, which is why the northbound lanes at the Raton exit remained closed indefinitely.

Fire officials said the black smoke was either live vegetation or a structure. This fire was not contained, and officials said Monday night that there were fires burning on either side of the I-25, which is why the northbound lanes at the Raton exit remained closed indefinitely.

Officials said that Raton was put on high alert because the fire was extremely close to homes, the downtown area and the city’s water supply. The fire damaged the city’s watershed. The mayor is heading there on Tuesday morning to see how bad it is, but he said people in the city don’t have to worry about their water supply at this point.

Update by KOAT News 7 | 2:53 pm MDT June 14, 2011

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