A severe fire condition was warned in the US Southwest on Saturday, as workers in northern New Mexico worked to prevent the development of the nation’s largest active wildfire.
The 7-week-old fire, the largest in New Mexico history, has burned 1,272 square kilometers (491 sq mi) of forest in a rugged area east of Santa Fe since it was triggered by two planned burns in April.
Crews were patrolling the partially burned areas and clearing and cutting lines including primary lines near the fire as bulldozers scattered backup lines far and wide.
The National Weather Service issued a serious fire warning for parts of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Those conditions are a combination of strong wind, low relative humidity, and dry vegetation.
dry wind, strong winds
The return of dry and warm weather with strong winds threatened an increase in fire activity over Memorial Day weekend, prompting officials to urge the public to secure vehicle chains and beware of potential fire sources.
“The last thing we need right now is another ignition,” said Jason Coil, head of the operations section.
Fire management team meteorologist Bruno Rodriguez said forecasts called for wind gusts of up to 80 kph (50 mph), with severe fire conditions continuing Monday, followed by more favorable ones in the coming week. The weather will be
Fire operations manager John Chester said strong winds could fan the flames and cause the fire to jump control lines and run forward.
Chester said, “Imagine you’re traveling in your car and a fire can overtake you. That’s the kind of extreme fire behavior we’re talking about.”
About 3,000 firefighters and other personnel were employed in the fire, which was about 48% of its circumference.
Initial estimates said the fire destroyed at least 330 homes, but state officials expect the number of homes and other structures to rise to more than 1,000 when more assessments are made.
Elsewhere, 150 firefighters lit 24 square kilometers (9 sq mi) of grass, brush, and salt cedar on the California side of the Colorado River, 22.5 kilometers (14 mi) southwest of Parker, Arizona, while battling a wind-driven fire. Gave.
Officials said the fire forced the evacuation of a recreational vehicle park after it started on Thursday and was 44% on Saturday.
The cause of the fire was being investigated.