Firefighters face extra challenges fighting NM-Texas brush fire

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Monday's fire on the border of Sunland Park and El Paso was especially difficult to put out.

Fire officials took ABC-7 on a tour of the affected area to show us what crews faced.

Smoke and flames threatened homes in El Paso on Monday. Worried El Pasoans sprayed water on their homes, hoping to stave off any damage.

On the other side of the Rio Grande, Sunland Park firefighters were struggling to find a way to the blaze.

'We try to come down here to the area and confine it and stop its spread," said Sunland Park Fire Chief Andres Burciaga.

Burciaga said the dry riverbed stopped the fire in its tracks. He said there were several times when officials thought the fire was contained, but then the winds kicked in.

Firefighters said the fire started in brush behind the Sunland Park Skate Park. With high winds, the flames spread and jumped across the river. That's when the fire started to move and threaten homes in El Paso.

On Friday, Burciaga took ABC-7 to the burn area to show us how difficult the fight was.

Crews had to go out in military Hummers because of the difficulty of the access roads. Narrow, dirt roads acted like quicksand. One Hummer got stuck in the sand at one point.

"That was the problem. We couldn't get out here. The roads are really sandy and there was no way to get any fire apparatus down here. Even our four-wheel drive vehicles were getting stuck down here," Burciaga told ABC-7.

Burciaga said they brought bulldozers out to create their own access roads.

Firefighters finally extinguished the flames in the early morning hours.

Burciaga said brush fires like this happen every few years. He said they are already preparing for the next one.

"We're working with elephant butte irrigation district so we can make fire breaks down here and maybe some kind of access points where we can put some apparatus down here," he said.

Fire officials are still investigating what caused the fire. They said it is suspicious in nature.

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