Multiple Wildfires in New Mexico Brings Emergency Situation.
As 20 wildfires burned in nearly half of New Mexico’s drought-stricken 33 counties on Sunday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued emergency declarations.
On Saturday, a wildfire that erupted on April 6 in northern New Mexico fused with a younger fire to become the state’s largest inferno.
Also, it prompted major evacuations in Mora and San Miguel counties. On Sunday, the fire had grown to 84 square miles (217 square kilometers) and was just 12% contained.
By Sunday morning north of Ocate, an unincorporated settlement in Mora County, an uncontained wind-driven wildfire that erupted on April 17 had scorched 81 square miles (209 square kilometers) of ponderosa pine, oak scrub, and grass.
Meanwhile, several Arizona homeowners who were forced to flee their homes due to a wildfire near Flagstaff were allowed to return home early Sunday morning.
According to authorities, wind-driven wildfires swept through Nebraska’s sections, killing a retired Cambridge fire chief and injuring at least 11 firefighters.
Winds and temperatures in New Mexico decreased on Saturday, but they were still strong enough to keep flames burning.
As a result, hundreds of evacuation orders were still in effect.
The northern flames were expected to slow off Sunday as cloud and smoke cover moved in, helping the trees to retain more moisture.
However, they warned that the fires interiors could exhibit moderate to extreme behavior, posing a threat to properties in those locations.
According to Lujan Grisham, more than 200 structures have been destroyed by the wildfires, with another 900 under threat.
Officials with the fire department stated the exact damage count is still unknown since it’s too unsafe for firefighters to walk inside and inspect all of the homes that have been destroyed.
We have no idea how much of the structure has been lost.
According to operating sections chief Jayson Coil, “we don’t even know the locations where most residences made it through the fire, where homes haven’t been harmed or anything like that.”
Approximately 1,000 firefighters were battling wildfires across New Mexico.
It has already received approximately USD 3 million in assistance to help combat the blazes.
Lujan Grisham said she’s contacted the White House for extra federal assistance and is pushing for a fireworks ban across the state.
“We need more federal bodies on the ground in New Mexico for firefighting, fire mitigation, and public safety support,” she said.
It’s going to be a long and difficult summer. As a result, fires are prohibited.
On Monday, I will ask every local government to consider how to prohibit the selling of fireworks.
According to scientists, wildfire has become a year-round threat in the West due to shifting conditions such as earlier snowmelt and rain arriving later in the fall.
Decades of fire suppression and bad management, and a more than 20-year megadrought linked to human-caused climate change have compounded the difficulties.
Two major flames raged 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Prescott and 14 miles (22 kilometers) northeast of Flagstaff in Arizona on Sunday.
After fire control experts determined the Flagstaff-area wildfire no longer posed a threat, Coconino County authorities canceled the evacuation order for homeowners living in neighborhoods along Highway 89 on Sunday morning.
The fire near Flagstaff had grown to 33 square miles (85 square kilometers), with only 3% control.
According to county officials, it has caused the evacuation of 766 residences and burned down 30 homes and two dozen other structures.
On Thursday, Doug Ducey issued a state of emergency for Coconino County to free up recovery funds for the affected areas.
As of Sunday morning, the wildfire in Prescott had grown to 4.8 square miles (12.4 square kilometers) and was 15% contained, thanks to water and retardant dropped by helicopters and air tankers.
Wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona are still being investigated as to what caused them.
Devika Chowdhury – She is a professional news editor, writer, and blogger for the last 10 years. She is working with NewsGater as an off-beat news editor cum writer.