Ruidoso tourism slumps as Little Bear Wildfire grows

Sunday, June 10, 2012 - 11:35pm

RUIDOSO, N.M. -- The town of Ruidoso, New Mexico is experiencing a decrease in tourism as the Little Bear Wildfire continues to grow to 26,000 acres and 0 percent containment.

Smoke from the fire can be seen for miles even as tourists drive into town. A lot of travelers stopped along the side of the road and stared at the massive smoke clouds.

"We tried going up north to the lakes, but we can't get up there because of all the smoke and with the wind it's pretty scary," said Obie Palacios, who was in Ruidoso on weekend vacation with family.

Their plan was to stay at a cabin, but they wound up at a hotel after all the campgrounds north of Ruidoso were evacuated.

Palacios said he and his family still found plenty of stuff to do around miles away from the fire.

"Probably just enjoying the games for the kids and the horse back riding and just walking around downtown," Palacios said.

Downtown is usually full of shoppers boosting the small town's economy. The last few days thick smoke looms over buildings and shoppers have become scarce.
Lee Adkins, owner of Adkins Gift Shop said it's not only the lack of customers that have hurt his business.

On Saturday phone lines went down after the system crashed from hundreds of people trying to make phone calls at the same time.

"We couldn't use our charge machine and you couldn't call out of town or get incoming calls," Adkins said.

He said he doesn't know how much money he lost but he hopes the town can recover from the loss of tourism.

Smoke from the fire is being blown north away from Ruidoso and the town is not being affected.


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