‘Extremely Critical Fire Weather’ Threatens the Southwest

Mr. Cox said the fire had burned a golf course and come within a half mile of his property outside Las Vegas. Roads have been blocked, and smoke has filled the air.

“People are freaking out,” he said. “People are really on edge.”

Logs in the area are drier than the kiln-dried two-by-fours sold in hardware stores, said Mike Johnson, a fire information officer working on the Calf Canyon and Hermit’s Peak fire. “With the fuel conditions we have, folks need to be prepared not only for this fire, but from any new starts that are going to be established,” he said.

Mr. Cox said he had given Red Cross workers burritos when they came to his restaurant, and offered them more on their next visit. “The whole community is stepping up and working together,” he said.

Another fire farther north, the Cooks Peak fire, has charred more than 55,000 acres in northeastern New Mexico since it started on April 17.

More than 520 firefighters have been battling that blaze, but the high winds on Friday were making it too dangerous for firefighting aircraft to join in, said David Shell, a spokesman for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team, which is coordinating efforts to fight the Cooks Peak fire.

“It’s scary out there,” Mr. Shell said. “You have to have your head on a swivel because conditions can change quickly. If the direction of the wind changes quickly, you have to be prepared to react immediately.”

The fire has been ripping through dry ponderosa pine, oak brush and grass.

“On a scale of one to five, I’d say it’s like a six,” Mr. Shell said, describing the combustible conditions. “It’s going to test our fire lines to the maximum.”

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