Wildfires continue to expand, merge in New Mexico

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Dry and windy conditions have led to the outbreak of wildfires in mountainous parts of New Mexico, and as of Saturday thousands of residents were fleeing their homes in rural areas of the state.

Some wildfires began as early as April 19, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told the media no fewer than 20 fires were burning in the state Saturday. Worse, some of the fires have overlapped one another.

“This morning it has been reported that the Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak fires have merged and now total over 42,000 acres in San Miguel & Mora counties,” Lujan Grisham tweeted. “Please join me in keeping all those affected by wildfires in our prayers, as well as the brave firefighters & first responders.”

A separate fire, called the Cooks Peak fire, has consumed an additional 42,000 acres.

Lujan Grisham has issued a series of emergency declarations for the counties effected by the fires.

“These emergency declarations will deliver critical funding for communities battling and recovering from wildfires across New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The state is actively partnering with counties and municipalities to assist New Mexicans affected by wildfires every step of the way. I am keeping the firefighters working all across the state in my prayers, as well as the families affected by these fires.”

The spread of fires is being aided by winds with gusts of up to 80 miles per hour, which equals the sustained wind speed one would experience during a Category 1 hurricane.

In her most recent tweet, Lujan Grisham indicated that evacuation efforts were ongoing.

“Evacuation status for communities in San Miguel County have not changed,” the tweet reads in part. “In Mora County, GO status has expanded to the Village of Mora east of Highway 94, La Cueva, El Alto, Rainsville, and Guadalupita. GO status means GO NOW.”

Late Saturday, the New Mexico State Police posted a pair of tweets in which evacuation locations were shared for those fleeing the fires.

The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has created a webpage on which it is tracking all data associated with the wildfire.