Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Rain helps 1,000 firefighters slow big New Mexico blazes as Biden approves disaster relief

News

Rain helps 1,000 firefighters slow big New Mexico blazes as Biden approves disaster relief
News

News

Rain helps 1,000 firefighters slow big New Mexico blazes as Biden approves disaster relief

2024-06-21 11:09 Last Updated At:11:11

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More than 1,000 firefighters in New Mexico took advantage of a break in the weather on Thursday to get the upper hand — for now — on a pair of wildfires that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for parts of southern New Mexico, freeing up funding and more resources as crews worked to keep the flames from spreading. Their efforts have gotten a boost from a storm system that brought with it rain, hail and cooler temperatures to the mountain village of Ruidoso and other parts of the state.

More Images
Deep Blue, a winning race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs, rests at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More than 1,000 firefighters in New Mexico took advantage of a break in the weather on Thursday to get the upper hand — for now — on a pair of wildfires that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee.

Race horses that were evacuated from Ruidoso Downs rest at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Race horses that were evacuated from Ruidoso Downs rest at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Drake Thurman, 13, volunteers to care for a race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Drake Thurman, 13, volunteers to care for a race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A couple from Ruidoso, N.M. camps at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Roswell, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A couple from Ruidoso, N.M. camps at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Roswell, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident checks a map on a screen while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident checks a map on a screen while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident sleeps at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident sleeps at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Residents of the Mescalero Apache Reservation rest while sheltering at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort in Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of residents fled their homes as a wildfire swept into the mountain village of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Residents of the Mescalero Apache Reservation rest while sheltering at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort in Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of residents fled their homes as a wildfire swept into the mountain village of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over trees in Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over trees in Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

An air tanker drops fire retardant called slurry over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

An air tanker drops fire retardant called slurry over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

A car rides on the road to Roswell, N.M., as smoke from a wildfire partially blocks the sun near the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A car rides on the road to Roswell, N.M., as smoke from a wildfire partially blocks the sun near the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Steven Dobrovolskis eats a slice of pizza while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Steven Dobrovolskis eats a slice of pizza while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, N.M., on Monday, June 17, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department via AP)

In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, N.M., on Monday, June 17, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department via AP)

Ardis Holder, center, and her daughters Adalene, left, and Analece spend the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Ardis Holder, center, and her daughters Adalene, left, and Analece spend the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

An air tanker soars through a large plume of smoke over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

An air tanker soars through a large plume of smoke over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows wildfires burning near Ruidoso, N.M. on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows wildfires burning near Ruidoso, N.M. on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

“The fire has lost momentum,” Arthur Gonzales, the fire behavior analyst for the federal attack team, told residents at a community meeting in Alamogordo on Thursday night. “We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s really changed that fire behavior," he said, noting that very little growth is expected over the next few days.

But firefighters know it's a brief respite given the dry tinderbox conditions that helped fuel the fires in the first place. Within days, the fires have consumed an area half the size of Washington, D.C.

“What we’re really focusing on now at this point, is when might we see this return to active fire spread?” Gonzales said. “Is there potential for this to start picking up and moving again?”

Federal and local officials said evacuation orders likely would remain in place for days in some places as crews snuff out hot spots around Ruidoso and law officers patrol streets to keep potential looters away.

Despite some reports that the fires were “human caused,” federal incident commander Dave Gessar said the causes are under investigation and remain “undetermined.”

The federal disaster declaration will help with recovery efforts, including temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property and other emergency work in Lincoln County and on lands belonging to the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Residents fled the larger of the two fires with little notice as it swept into neighborhoods on Monday. More areas were evacuated on Tuesday as the fire ballooned, consuming homes nestled among the the ponderosa pines that dominate the hillsides.

An estimated 1,400 structures have been destroyed or damaged, and Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford has estimated about half were homes. Whole portions of some communities were lost, he said.

“These are things that are burnt to the foundations and all the trees around it,” he said. “It’s devastating.”

Authorities say a 60-year-old man who died was found near the popular Swiss Chalet Inn in Ruidoso. His family said he had arranged for a ride from friends but they were unable to get to him Monday since the roads were blocked. It appeared he was overcome after he tried to set out on foot.

On Wednesday, officers discovered the skeletal remains of an unidentified second person in the driver's seat of a burned vehicle.

A couple of residents have been driving around Ruidoso and neighboring Alto, providing reports via social media of what they are seeing. There are neighborhoods where the ground was turned to ash, the trees were blackened and homes were reduced to their foundations, with only fireplaces remaining.

“I am speechless. I'm so sorry everyone,” said Logan Fle, as he drove down one road.

Much of the Southwest has been exceedingly dry and hot in recent months. Those conditions, along with strong wind, whipped the flames out of control, rapidly advancing the South Fork Fire into Ruidoso in a matter of hours. Evacuations extended to hundreds of homes, businesses, a regional medical center and the Ruidoso Downs horse track.

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nearly 20 wildfires burning in California, Arizona, Colorado and Washington state and elsewhere are considered large and uncontained.

Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.

AP Ruidoso wildfires page: https://apnews.com/hub/ruidoso

Deep Blue, a winning race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs, rests at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Deep Blue, a winning race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs, rests at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Race horses that were evacuated from Ruidoso Downs rest at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Race horses that were evacuated from Ruidoso Downs rest at a stall in Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Drake Thurman, 13, volunteers to care for a race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Drake Thurman, 13, volunteers to care for a race horse who was evacuated from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Trainer John Stinebaugh inspects his horses after evacuating them from Ruidoso Downs to Artesia, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A couple from Ruidoso, N.M. camps at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Roswell, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A couple from Ruidoso, N.M. camps at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Roswell, N.M., Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Strong wind pushed the larger of two wildfires into the mountain village of Ruidoso, forcing residents to flee. One person was killed and hundreds of structures were damaged. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident checks a map on a screen while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident checks a map on a screen while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident sleeps at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A Ruidoso resident sleeps at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Residents of the Mescalero Apache Reservation rest while sheltering at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort in Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of residents fled their homes as a wildfire swept into the mountain village of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Residents of the Mescalero Apache Reservation rest while sheltering at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort in Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of residents fled their homes as a wildfire swept into the mountain village of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over trees in Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

Smoke from a wildfire rises over trees in Ruidoso, N.M., Monday, June 17, 2024. Residents of the mountain village of about 7,000 residents fled their homes under evacuation orders with little time to rescue belongings. (Jacquie Escajeda via AP)

An air tanker drops fire retardant called slurry over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

An air tanker drops fire retardant called slurry over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

A car rides on the road to Roswell, N.M., as smoke from a wildfire partially blocks the sun near the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A car rides on the road to Roswell, N.M., as smoke from a wildfire partially blocks the sun near the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Steven Dobrovolskis eats a slice of pizza while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Steven Dobrovolskis eats a slice of pizza while spending the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, N.M., on Monday, June 17, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department via AP)

In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, N.M., on Monday, June 17, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department via AP)

Ardis Holder, center, and her daughters Adalene, left, and Analece spend the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Ardis Holder, center, and her daughters Adalene, left, and Analece spend the night at a shelter in Roswell, N.M., after evacuating from Ruidoso, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

An air tanker soars through a large plume of smoke over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

An air tanker soars through a large plume of smoke over and around wildfire-affected areas in the village of Ruidoso, N.M., Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows wildfires burning near Ruidoso, N.M. on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows wildfires burning near Ruidoso, N.M. on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

PARIS (AP) — A legendary French priest and a life-long advocate of the homeless was accused of committing acts that would amount to “sexual assault or sexual harassment,” the international foundation he established said in a statement Wednesday.

Abbé Pierre, who died in 2007, was one of France’s most beloved public figures. The founder of the international Emmaus Community for the poor, Abbé Pierre had served as France’s conscience since the 1950s, when he persuaded Parliament to pass a law — still on the books — forbidding landlords to evict tenants during winter.

Several women have accused the late priest of sexual assault or harassment between the end of the 1970s and 2005, his foundation said in a statement. It explained that it is making public the allegations of seven women, including one who was a minor at the time of abuse, after reviewing the report of an expert firm, which specializes in violence prevention, that was commissioned to listen to women's testimonies, and analyze them.

"The Emmaus Community is making public the acts that may amount to sexual assault or sexual harassment, committed by Abbé Pierre," the statement said. It added that several other women had “suffered comparable acts” of sexual abuse, but were unable to be heard. The alleged victims were employees, volunteers with the foundation or some of its member organizations, or young women in Abbé Pierre’s personal entourage, the statement also said.

The foundation has set up a confidential system for other potential victims to come forward, for “collecting testimonies and providing support to people who were victims of or witnessed unacceptable behavior on the part of Abbé Pierre,” the statement also said.

In 2021, an independent commission on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church estimated that some 330,000 children were sexually abused over 70 years by priests or other church-related figures in France.

FILE - French priest Abbe Pierre prepares to drive away after making various speeches to volunteer helpers who help the homeless in the streets of Paris, on Feb. 2, 1954. Several women have accused late French priest Abbe Pierre of sexual assault or harassment, his foundation said Wednesday July 17, 2024. Abbe Pierre was one of France's most beloved public figures and a lifelong advocate for the homeless. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - French priest Abbe Pierre prepares to drive away after making various speeches to volunteer helpers who help the homeless in the streets of Paris, on Feb. 2, 1954. Several women have accused late French priest Abbe Pierre of sexual assault or harassment, his foundation said Wednesday July 17, 2024. Abbe Pierre was one of France's most beloved public figures and a lifelong advocate for the homeless. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Abbe Pierre addresses journalists in his home of Alfortville, east of Paris, on Aug. 5, 2005. Several women have accused late French priest Abbe Pierre of sexual assault or harassment, his foundation said Wednesday July 17, 2024. Abbe Pierre was one of France's most beloved public figures and a lifelong advocate for the homeless. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

FILE - Abbe Pierre addresses journalists in his home of Alfortville, east of Paris, on Aug. 5, 2005. Several women have accused late French priest Abbe Pierre of sexual assault or harassment, his foundation said Wednesday July 17, 2024. Abbe Pierre was one of France's most beloved public figures and a lifelong advocate for the homeless. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Recommended Articles