New Mexico

Fire breaks out at Otero County recycling center, narrowly misses adjacent mobile homes

Fire consumes recycling plant...

OTERO COUNTY, New Mexico - A fire broke out in an Otero County recycling center Sunday afternoon just north of the state line, narrowly missing mobile homes in the adjacent area.

“I just grabbed my stuff, our daughter, and got out," said Janet Flores, who lived just next to the recycling plant.

The pregnant woman was home alone with her one-year-old daughter at the time.

"It was humongous," Flores said. "The flames were sky high!"

A large and dark plume of smoke was visible from miles away. Sheriff House said the smoke came from a pile of burning plastic.

“The fire was pretty intense," said Isidro Gonzalez, a deputy sheriff for Otero County.

Gonzalez said the fire started on the east side of the building and moved west. He also said the burning plastic emitted harmful chemicals. Several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

"(It was) pretty harmful to be breathing all this plastic smoke," Gonzalez said.

A total of three different departments were on scene, including Otero County, Doña Ana County and the El Paso Fire Department. Gonzalez said there were dozens of volunteer firefighters.

“Because the smoke and the changing of the wind direction, it caused a lot of problems for the fire crews," Gonzalez said.

Ultimately, there was no damage to Flores' mobile home, althought the tops of her trees were charred with the heat and smoke.

"I just feel, just happiness, you know?" Flores said. "I’m just happy it didn’t get over here to our property.” 

A fire investigator said the structure appears to be a total loss. Otero County is attempting to contact the owner and renter of the property to determine the estimated monetary loss.