Northern New Mexico wildfire forces more evacuations
Wildfires driven by strong winds continued to threaten northern New Mexico, forcing thousands to evacuate.
Driving the news: The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, which began as two fires that later merged, had burned 120,653 acres east of Santa Fe as of Monday afternoon. The blaze was about 20% contained, according to data from InciWeb, an interagency website that tracks wildfires.
- The fire, which is expected to continue growing, is on track to become one of New Mexico's most destructive wildfires, according to ABC News.
- The smaller Cerro Pelado fire burning west of Santa Fe reached 17,885 acres and was only 10% contained by Monday afternoon.
The big picture: Residents of the small New Mexico city of Las Vegas braced for evacuations on Monday as the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fires expanded, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
- The Luna and Cinder areas of Las Vegas were ordered to evacuate early Monday morning, while the Creston and Bibb areas were told to prepare to evacuate at a moment's notice, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
- The National Guard transported students from United World College, who had been evacuated to Las Vegas from Montezuma on Friday, to an emergency shelter near Pecos, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
- The Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas also began evacuating patients on Monday morning, the New Mexico Department of Health said.
- So far, the northeastern New Mexico fire has damaged or destroyed 172 homes and at least 116 structures, officials said, according to the AP.
Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: New Mexico, like the West overall, is mired in a long-term, intense drought. As of the last week of April, 98% of the state was in "moderate" to "exceptional" drought conditions. The dry conditions, combined with several intense wind events have led to several long-lasting, large fires in the state.
- Human-caused climate change, along with other factors, is causing a dramatic increase in the occurrence of large wildfires across the West and Southwest.