New Mexico villages evacuate as fires burn uncontrolled in US southwest

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New Mexico declares emergency as 20 wildfires continue to burn in nearly half of the southwestern state’s drought-stricken 33 counties. Destructive fires have burned dozens of homes in northern Arizona and put numerous small villages in New Mexico in the path of danger. (AP) More villages have been evacuated in northern New Mexico in the face of wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of structures in the southwestern US state. 

Residents of Mora and Cleveland were told to leave after fire swept through farming villages and a resort community to the south, according to fire officials and local authorities on Sunday.

The blaze was the most destructive of nearly two dozen in the US Southwest and raised concerns the region was in for a long, brutal fire year.

«It's devastating and out of control,» Joy Ansley, San Miguel County Manager, said of the so-called Calf Canyon fire burning in mountains northeast of Santa Fe.

The fire exploded on Friday during a ferocious wind storm and has destroyed a yet-untold number of homes as it burned 54,004 acres.

«Many people have lost everything,» New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told a briefing on Saturday.

Grisham also signed an emergency declarations as 20 wildfires continued to burn in nearly half of the state’s drought-stricken 33 counties.

Climate crisis 

New Mexico is experiencing summer-like fire conditions in spring after climate crisis lowered snowpacks and allowed larger and more extreme fires to start earlier in the year, according to scientists.

As winds dropped on Sunday firefighters were able to gain 12 percent containment of the fire, fighting to save homes around villages like Rociada and Pendaries, according to US Forest Service spokesman Michael Johnson.

To the northeast, a fire about 35 miles east of Taos grew to 51,982 acres, forcing the evacuation of Philmont Scout Ranch and four villages.

Another uncontrolled fire burned over 3,000 acres of the Jemez Mountains about 15 miles southwest of Los Alamos, triggering evacuations in two small communities.

Source: AFP