Wind-fueled fires in the Southwest have destroyed hundreds of houses in northern Arizona and placed a number of small settlements in New Mexico in imminent danger, as massive plumes of smoke billowed into the sky and large swathes of tinder dry forest and grassland were devoured.
More rain and cooler temperatures early Friday helped firefighters working to keep more homes from burning on the outskirts of a mountain town in northern Arizona from spreading, but the favourable weather did not last, and more wind gusts were expected to batter parts of Arizona and the entire state of New Mexico through the weekend.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighters were sent to more than a dozen significant fires throughout the United States this year. Fires were recorded in six states, including Fresh Mexico, and three states, including Arizona. This does not include the several new starts that were reported Friday as circumstances worsened.
On Friday, the wind howled over New Mexico, blanketing the Rio Grande Valley in a layer of dust and causing fires to rage in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the state’s northernmost region. One inferno blazing northeast of Santa Fe was likely to spread to several other villages by the end of the day, according to fire authorities.
Residents must comply with evacuation orders, authorities said in a warning issued Friday afternoon.
In order to escape the impending flames, neighbours spent the night assisting one another pack goods and put their horses and other animals onto trailers to aid one another get away. There are several hundred individuals who live in the rural region, but many of their homes are vacant since their families have not yet arrived for the summer.
On Friday, Lena Atencio and her husband, whose family has resided in the Rociada neighbourhood for five generations, were forced to leave their home as the wind picked up speed. She said that the threat was taken seriously by the public.
The community, as a whole, is basically coming together to support one another and take care of the things that need to be taken care of right now.” As the wind howled through the neighbourhood of Las Vegas, where evacuees were gathering, she remarked, “it’s in God’s hands at that time.” “All we can do now is sit back and wait to see what happens.”
The forecasts of fire managers were coming to pass, and they included: Because there was no air assistance and no people working directly on the fire lines, the fire grew at an explosive rate. Wind gusts ranging from 55 to 65 mph (88 to 104 kph) have been reported.
Sheriff Chris Lopez of San Miguel County described the situation as “very perilous.” A number of evacuation centres had been established, and numerous routes had been blocked.
The evacuation of inhabitants in the town of Cimarron, as well as the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America’s Philmont Scout Ranch in the northeastern part of New Mexico, was also being forced by another wind-whipped fire blazing in the state’s northeastern region. There were no scouts on the site, according to ranch management, who said hundreds of people had come to see them every summer.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, has declared an emergency in four counties that have been impacted by the fires.
Just a few days before, wildfires raged through rural areas near Flagstaff, Arizona. Not until Thursday did the weather clear enough for helicopters to dump water on the wildfire and for officials to reach the burned region to assess the extent of the damage. They discovered that 30 houses and countless other structures had been destroyed, with sheriff’s officers estimating that more than 100 properties had been impacted by the fire.