FARMINGTON — Organizations and members of the community around San Juan County are lending support to people forced from their homes by the Assayii Lake Fire in the Ch'ooshgai Mountains.
Doug Hatfield, San Juan County Fire Chief, said his department sent 21 firefighters and seven fire engines while the Farmington Fire Department supplied three firefighters and one fire engine.
Hatfield said the team from San Juan County has been focused on structure protection in the Sheep Springs and Naschitti areas by making sure debris is removed around structures as the winds reach 40 to 50 mph.
San Juan County has given the New Mexico chapter of the American Red Cross some of its equipment to supply shelters established by the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management, county emergency manger Don Cooper said.
The evacuation equipment includes cots and blankets which were taken to shelters established in Newcomb, Naschitti and Tohatchi.
"We're here to support whatever the Navajo Nation needs," Cooper said.
A Red Flag Warning was issued Monday through today by the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management. The warning is issued when conditions such as high wind and drought create extreme fire danger
Beverly Allen, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in New Mexico, said the agency has taken supplies and equipment to the three shelters but the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management is operating the shelters.
Donations are being accepted at a number of locations in Farmington, Shiprock and nearby communities affected by the wildfire.
According to the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management, donations will be accepted at the Shiprock, Naschitti and Crystal chapter houses along with the Tohatchi and Newcomb high schools.
Donations being sought by drop-off locations in Shiprock and Farmington include bottled water, Gatorade, non-perishable food items — including snacks like granola bars, coffee and beef jerky — along with toiletries including toothpaste, tooth brushes, toilet paper, deodorant, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products. Also needed are bedding, blankets, towels, new or gently used clothing, plates, utensils, re-sealable zipper storage bags and pet food.
The Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise in Shiprock located in the Navajo Nation Shopping Center on the corner of U.S. Highway 491 and State Highway 64 will be collecting donations all this week.
San Juan College and Associated Students of San Juan College will sponsor a community donation drive for those affected by the wildfire on Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Henderson Fine Arts parking lot. Donations also will be accepted during the college's Summer Music Festival on Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.
and in the college's Native American Center and Financial Aid Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Friday.
John Tohtsoni Jr., director of the Fast Forward program, said the college has students from the impacted communities and some have families that have been evacuated.
"We want to do what we can for our students and people in the county that have been affected by the fire," Tohtsoni Jr. said.
Donations will also collected at Passion Radio at 1103 W. Apache through Thursday morning.