LAS VEGAS, N.M. ( Associated Press) — High winds hampered firefighters in northeastern New Mexico on Sunday as they battled two major fires, though the rural area’s largest urban center finally appears to be out. the dangerous.
“It has been a difficult day. The winds picked up and haven’t let up,” Fire Department spokesman Todd Abel said.
The largest rural town, Las Vegas, New Mexico, population 13,000, sits on the eastern edge of the fire zone and appeared to be out of the woods for now thanks to bulldozed fire lines and other preparations. took place during the week. But the northern and southern ends of the conflagration remain difficult to contain, particularly due to winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph), Abel said.
The perimeter of the fire stretched more than 60 miles (96 kilometers), from Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the extreme southeast to near Holbrook, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the Colorado line. The National Interdepartmental Fire Center said Sunday that more than 200,000 structures remain threatened by the fire, which has destroyed more than 300 residences in the past two weeks. The agency said the fire is not expected to be fully contained until the end of July.
Strong winds are forecast to continue unabated through Sunday night and at least through Monday. Such intense gusts are considered firefighters’ worst nightmare, especially in conditions as arid as those crews have been facing in the Southwest since early April.
In addition to fanning and spreading the flames, these winds ground air tankers and light aircraft that pour water directly onto the flames or drop retardant in the fire path to allow bulldozers and crews to dig firebreaks into the fire. where there are no roads or highways that can help stop the progression of the flames.