The old Blackwater Draw Museum’s building on U.S. 70 between Clovis and Portales was destroyed Tuesday afternoon as area firefighters battled large range fires fueled by fierce winds south and west of Clovis.
“The old museum is a complete loss,” museum officials posted on their Facebook page, but said some of the murals on the building’s walls survived. The Blackwater Draw museum moved to the university campus in Portales in 2017,taking the majority of their priceless artifacts to the new location.
The fire was largely contained by sundown, about four hours after it started, officials said. According to a post from the official Facebook of Portales Fire Department, “approximately 1,000 acres, an undetermined number of outbuildings, and the former museum burned. Multiple agencies worked together to contain and stop the fire. No homes have been reported to have been lost or personnel reported injured.”
Cause of the fire is not yet known. At this time the NM State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate the probable cause.
In conjunction the the fire on US 70, around the same time firefighters were called to another county blaze, Curry County fire trucks were called in from Clovis, Melrose and Field to contain a blaze west of Cannon Air Force Base along 60/84 and CR Z.
Dan Heerding, City of Clovis Emergency Management Director, said the fire was contained “but still hot” by sundown. A stack of railroad ties helped get that fire under control. Heerding said he was not aware of any structures lost or injuries in the Curry County fire.
Sustained winds in excess of 30 mph, with gusts reported above 50 mph, helped fuel both fires Tuesday afternoon.