Cannon, local firefighters contain 35,000-acre fire

Cannon and local area firefighters worked together to contain the 35,000 blaze that erupted Wednesday.

Capt. André Kok

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Cannon Air Force Base fire protection personnel responded to a brush fire on Melrose Bombing Range which is located approximately 22 miles west of the base. At the time of this incident on Wednesday morning, the range was scheduled and being used for normal training sorties by Air Force aircraft. The exact cause of the fire has not been fully determined. An investigation, as well as an assessment of damages, is under way.
Before the situation could be contained by on-site Cannon fire protection personnel, high winds created conditions in which the fire became uncontrollable. Cannon called the Melrose Fire Department at 10 a.m. to request assistance in controlling the situation.
As a result of increasingly gusty winds, the fire continued to intensify and, despite every best effort, eventually breached range fire breaks at approximately 10 a.m., spreading outside the range boundary to adjacent, privately owned property. Additional firefighters from Cannon and the surrounding communities continued to respond in ongoing efforts to contain the fire. Cannon committed a total of 30 firefighters and five fire protection vehicles; an ambulance and crew; as well as additional support vehicles and personnel.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but 12 local firefighters were treated at the scene for relatively minor injuries.
As of 6:30 p.m., the fire was contained. Initial reports indicated the fire affected more than 35,000 acres – mostly south and east of the range.
Individuals who suffered damages as a result of the fire may contact the Cannon Air Force Base Claims Office at 784-2212 for information on filing a claim. Claims personnel will make arrangements to inspect the damage, provide claims forms and explain the claims process.