New Mexico largest wildfire only now nearing 50% containment mark.
Late last month, I noted that large wildfires had already consumed over 100,000 acres in four states.
The devastation in New Mexico was historic. The largest of the active wildfires is still less than 50% contained.
Crews in northern New Mexico have cleared and cut containment lines around nearly half of the perimeter of the nation’s largest active wildfire while bracing for a return of weather conditions that might fan flames and send embers aloft, officials said Thursday.
The 7-week-old fire east of Santa Fe was boxed in around 46% of its 635-mile (1,022-kilometer) perimeter, enclosing an area larger than Oklahoma City.
Recent weather that included lighter winds, cloud cover and light rain and snow in some areas helped firefighters’ effort to surround the fire and slow its growth. But forecasts for Friday and through the holiday weekend call for higher temperatures, less humidity and stronger winds.
The National Weather Service issued fire weather watches for the region on Saturday.
Fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner said at a briefing Thursday night he doesn’t expect “any big growth” in the blaze on Friday, but that could change because “we are extremely dry.”
Reports indicate that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) started the two blazes that grew into New Mexico’s largest wildfire in history.
Forest Service investigators determined the Calf Canyon Fire was caused by a “burn pile” of branches that the agency thought was out but reignited on April 19, the Santa Fe National Forest said in a statement.
That blaze on April 22 merged with the Hermits Peak Fire, which the USFS started with a controlled burn that went out of control on April 6, the agency previously reported.
The combined blaze has so far torched over 312,320 acres(126,319 hectares) of mountain forests and valleys, an area approaching the size of greater London, and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Prescribed burns often are used in wildland areas that are too vast to thin by hand or machine. The two fires started by the USFS east of Santa Fe joined in April to form the massive blaze in the Sangre de Cristo range.
One of the fires was previously traced to April 6, when a prescribed burn, set by firefighters to clear out small trees and brush, was declared out of control.
On Friday, investigators said they had tracked the source of the second fire to the remnants of a prescribed winter fire that lay dormant through several snowstorms only to flare up again last month.
Investigators said the prescribed “pile burn” was initiated in January at Gallinas Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest outside Las Vegas, New Mexico, and concluded in the final days of that month. Fire was reported again in the same vicinity April 9 and escaped control 10 days later amid dry, hot and windy conditions, Forest Service investigators found.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement called the investigation results a “first step toward the federal government taking full responsibility” for the New Mexico wildfire. She highlighted her pending request to President Joe Biden to direct the Federal Emergency Management Administration to pay for 100% of costs related to a broad range of recovery efforts.
Frankly, I am not that impressed by the ability of bureaucratic “experts” to resolve problems on a global or regional scale.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.