Wildfire’s Rapid Spread Worries New Mexico Officials

Because of the ongoing danger, county officials have been unable to provide a full accounting of how many structures have been destroyed or damaged. But Joy Ansley, the county manager for San Miguel County, said that before the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire expanded on Friday, it had destroyed 200 structures.

Eight other fires were also burning in the state on Saturday. New Mexico is one of several states that have dealt with wildfires this spring, fueled by high winds and drier conditions likely to be linked to climate change.

In Arizona, firefighters were putting out the Tunnel Fire, which had burned 19,075 acres in the central part of the state near Flagstaff, according to InciWeb, a government website that tracks wildfires. That blaze was 92 percent contained by Saturday night.

About 100 miles southwest of that fire, the Crooks Fire near Mount Union had burned more than 9,000 acres and was 38 percent contained, according to InciWeb. And in Nebraska, firefighters had contained 97 percent of the Road 702 fire, which had burned about 44,000 acres, according the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Roger Montoya, a New Mexico state representative whose district includes three counties currently being affected by fires, spent time last week with a team delivering food and other supplies to residents who had not yet left. Some are without electricity, he said.

“There’s a reluctance for individuals to leave their homes,” he said.

Samuel Coca, the general manager of a bar in the Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M., said he had three vehicles packed with belongings in case he and his family needed to leave.

As the fire grew Friday, along with the number of people leaving their homes, his bar began providing free buffet dinners for firefighters and evacuees. Many people left home with the clothes they were wearing and not much else, he added.

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