The governor of New Mexico is calling for additional federal assistance in responding to fires in the northern part of the state, including one that is the second largest in the state’s history and is estimated by officials to have destroyed hundreds of homes.
SANTA FE, NM – The governor of New Mexico is seeking additional federal assistance to respond to fires in the northern part of the state, including one that is the second largest in the state’s history and which officials estimate has destroyed hundreds of homes.
Government. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday that New Mexico needs more help than is offered in the president’s recent declaration of disaster.
The necessary response, including immediate funding for the removal of debris and “a full range of emergency protection measures,” is beyond the state’s capabilities, and the federal government should bear 100% of the costs, as part of the fire was ignited by the fire. blown by the wind from a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest, the governor said.
Since then, that fire has spread to another fire and has grown to 437 square miles (1,133 square kilometers). The 5-week-old blaze has threatened the small town of Las Vegas in New Mexico for a while, before it was stopped just outside the city in the past week. Fire crews continue to work to keep the fire out of several rural communities.
Officials said on Saturday that weather conditions still include high temperatures and low humidity, but that less smoke allowed firefighters to go up into the sky for the second day in a row to fight the blaze.
At one point, late Saturday afternoon, the column of smoke from the fire reached 30,000 feet (9,144 meters), creating the possibility that it would collapse on itself and create wind swirling close to the ground. Firefighters along part of the western flank of the fire have been warned of the potential danger, fire spokesman Mike De Fries said.
Fires broke out this spring in several western states, including California, Colorado and Arizona. Forecasts for the rest of spring are not auspicious for the West, with drought and warmer weather caused by climate change exacerbating the risk of fire.
Nationwide, more than 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) have burned so far this year – the most at this time in 2018, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
In Colorado, a fire burning southwest of Colorado Springs has grown to 1.5 square miles (3.8 square kilometers) overnight and is limited by 10 percent, Teller County Sheriff’s Office officials said Saturday morning.
The fire, now known as High Park Fire, broke out Thursday near the former mining town of Cripple Creek. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
By Thursday evening, at least 120 people from 40 residences had evacuated the area, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook.
Officials say the fire could continue to rise as tastes are expected to reach up to 35 mph (56 km / h). Winds are expected to drop around 14:00, which could help with firefighting efforts.
In New Mexico, the largest forest fire has a perimeter of 500 miles (805 kilometers), greater than the distance between San Francisco and San Diego, and was only 27%. Another fire in the west, near Los Alamos, burned 71 square miles (184 square kilometers) and was limited by 23%.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters and other personnel are fighting the two fires.
Firefighters said the largest fire destroyed at least 473 structures, including houses and other buildings. Lujan Grisham’s office on Friday provided an updated estimate that 262 homes had been destroyed, but pointed out that authorities could not safely enter many burned areas to assess the damage.
In other developments, Republican leaders of the New Mexican House on Friday called on the state to join a federal investigation into the management of the prescribed burnout that sparked the worst fire.
“Our sincere belief is that the people of northern New Mexico deserve an impartial and thorough investigation conducted by parties other than those engaged by the federal government,” GOP lawmakers said in a letter to Democrat Lujan Grisham.