SANTA FE, N.M. ( Associated Press) — New Mexico’s governor has called for more federal assistance to respond to wildfires burning in northern New Mexico, including one that is the second largest in New Mexico history. and that the authorities estimate that it has destroyed hundreds of houses.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday that New Mexico needs more help than it is receiving under the recent presidential disaster declaration.
The necessary response, including immediate funds to remove debris and “a series of emergency protective measures”, exceeds the capabilities of the state and the federal government must bear 100% of the costs because part of the fire was started by embers carried by the wind from a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest, the governor explained.
That fire merged with another and reached 1,133 square kilometers (437 square miles). The combined five-week fire briefly threatened the small New Mexico city of Las Vegas before being contained to the city limits in the last week. Firefighters continue to work to prevent the fire from reaching several rural communities.
On Saturday, authorities said weather conditions continued to include a fire-prone situation, such as high temperatures and low humidity, though lower smoke volumes have allowed firefighting planes to work for the second day in a row to extinguish the flames.
Wildfires have broken out this spring in several states in the western United States, including California, Colorado and Arizona. The forecasts for the rest of spring are not good for the region, with drought and heat generated by climate change increasing the chances of fires.
Across the United States, more than 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) have burned so far this year — the largest area at this point since 2018, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.