Strong Winds Fan New Mexico Fire

LA UNION, New Mexico --

It took firefighters almost 12 hours to put out a hay fire near an animal hospital in La Union.

The fire in the 1000 block of Vinton Road started at 5 p.m. Wednesday, and crews didn't leave until 3 a.m. after letting it burn itself out.

Wednesday's strong winds reached 50 mph at times, and it made it difficult for firefighters to control the fast spreading flames. Four volunteer fire departments were called out from West Valley, Anthony, Vinton, and Santa Teresa.

Investigators haven't said what may have started the fire, but they said it started in a ditch near the Tzarges Animal Clinic in the ranch. The wind caused the fire to jump to a pile of hay, then a pile of manure, and an open barn stacked with 2,300 bales of hay. Owner and veterinarian of the animal hospital said he suspects a cigarette butt may be to blame for the fire.

The biggest worry for veterinarian Sidney Tzarges, was that the fire would spread to the hospital where horses are treated. "There were sparks that were in there, but they were able to contain that," he said.

No one was hurt, and the animals have been moved to another part of the ranch.

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