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Southern Baptist relief efforts wrap up in fire-ravaged Los Alamos

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (BP)–Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts in northern New Mexico are expected to wrap up this weekend, according to Fred Kinsey, the North American Mission Board’s on-sight coordinator.

Kinsey reported May 25 that the child-care unit operated by volunteers from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma was expected to continue serving at the Los Alamos County Joint Service Center through the weekend.

On May 25, Kinsey said that volunteers had cared for 55 children, in the wake of the massive Cerro Grande Fire, which ripped through Los Alamos May 10-11.

The wildfire, the largest in the state’s history, consumed over 47,000 acres and destroyed at least 235 structures. During the height of the blaze, which was reported 100 percent contained May 24, over 20,000 people were evacuated from the area, including the entire town of Los Alamos. Over 400 families are still affected.

One Baptist volunteer from Oklahoma told the Baptist New Mexican that they had cared for 94 individuals during the disaster. The largest number in a single day was 37, on Sunday, May 21, she said.

A relief team of volunteers from the Sooner state was scheduled to arrive May 25 and stay through June 1.

The child-care unit manned by volunteers from the Baptist General Convention of Texas closed at the end of the day on May 24. The unit had been stationed at the YMCA in Los Alamos, but “the number of children needing ministry never developed as expected,” Kinsey said.

Housing the seven child-care workers from New Mexico’s neighboring states was White Rock Baptist Church, Los Alamos.

The Top of Texas feeding unit concluded its ministry May 24 after the noon meal. The operation utilized 17 volunteers to prepare more than 19,660 meals during its 11 days of operation, first at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center, then in Los Alamos, Kinsey said.

While still at Glorieta last weekend, a fire destroyed 200 cambros, which were used to transport food, according to Ken Camp of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Camp told the Baptist New Mexican the incident occurred when a tent was blown over by a gust of wind. A tent pole knocked off part of a propane tank, releasing gas that was then ignited by the pilot light of a nearby hot-water tank.

Joy Pittman contributed to this story.

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