N.M. Captain: Crew Battling Fire Told to Stand Down

Capitan Capt. Craig VanWinkle says that safety officers told his crew to pull out after they continued to battle the fire and missed a meeting.


Despite orders to stand down and stop trying to save homes, one crew battling the Little Bear Fire north of Ruidoso kept on doing its job, according to KOB-TV.

Capt. Craig VanWinkle of the Capitan Volunteer Fire Department told the news station that bureaucratic red tape has hampered firefighters trying to protect homes from the fire that has destroyed more than 200 so far.

Because of their efforts, they were able to save one man's home from the flames.

"We might have broken the policy, but we saved the man’s house," VanWinkle said.

He says that fire safety officers told his crew to pull out of the fire because they didn't attend a meeting after deciding to instead continue to battle flames near homes.

"I called them by phone and told them that we were still battling fire and that I was not going to be at that meeting and told them what trucks and what numbers."

Fire officials told the news station that are currently investigating VanWinkle's claims, but said the incident commander told them that he wouldn't have ordered anyone off the fire line for missing a meeting.