New Mexico fires could threaten 15,000 homes

More than 15,000 homes could be threatened in the next three days if the fires in the Hermits Peak and New Mexico Canyon continue to grow, according to Andy Lyon, a public information officer with the Southwest Incident Management Group .

This includes the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico, about 85 miles northeast of Albuquerque, and surrounding communities in San Miguel and Mora Counties, according to Lyon.

According to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, five fires are burning across six counties in New Mexico.

Like much of the Southwest, New Mexico has experienced a severe, prolonged drought, which has created severe fire conditions. Fire weather conditions in April were the worst seen in the state in more than a decade.

The largest blaze, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon flames, merged more than a week ago and has burned about 146,000 acres, according to Lyon, and the blaze is only 20% extinguished.

About 172 homes were destroyed in Mora County and San Miguel County, and more than 6,000 homes were evacuated.

“One lost home for a New Mexican family is too much,” she said. “We are grateful for the work of the firefighters and the fire service.”

About 3,500 people were evacuated in and around Las Vegas Monday night because of the fire threat, according to San Miguel County Manager Joy Ansley. As of Friday, 270 structures had been visibly damaged or destroyed, including 166 homes, she said.

San Miguel and Mora counties said the situation was “a long-term event” in a joint statement Tuesday. “We don’t anticipate getting this fire under control anytime soon.”

Lujan Grisham said the Cooks Peak fire has burned more than 59,000 acres and is 72 percent contained. She said mitigation efforts, such as trenching and containment lines, are being used.

“It’s not like putting out a fire. You don’t drive a fire truck and spray water,” the governor said. She added support from the federal government and other states.

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