Lujan Grisham stated Saturday that hundreds of structures were destroyed by wind-driven fires in drought-stricken New Mexico.
Lujan stated that at least 20 wildfires were currently burning in at most 16 of the state’s 33 counties. This was in the face of winds gusting up to 90 mph (145 km/h) on Friday. "So half of the state has fire issues."
Lujan Grisham stated that April saw a lot of fires, which was well before the usual May or June wildfire season. "Our risk season is incredibly early and dangerously dangerously early."
Scientists have stated that wildfire is now a threat all year round in the West due to changing weather conditions, including earlier snowmelt and more rain in the fall. These problems are exacerbated by decades-long fire suppression and poor management, as well as a megadrought lasting more than 20 years that has been linked to climate change.
New Mexico had the highest number of wildfires in New Mexico on Saturday, but neighboring Arizona had large fires as well, including one that destroyed 30 homes near Flagstaff Tuesday.
The Tunnel Fire has burned for almost a week and has not been stopped by rain or snow. The fire has burned 21,000 acres and was only 3% contained Saturday night.
New Mexico's wind and temperature conditions were less severe Saturday, but they were still strong enough to fan fires and there were dozens of evacuation orders.
Lujan Grisham stated that more than 200 structures were destroyed. He did not provide details on the locations or the number of homes in that total.
She stated that fires are still burning and areas too charred to enter make it unsafe for anyone to go in. This indicates an increase in the number of structures lost.
She urged residents to stop using fireworks and burning trash, and to leave when there are fire warnings. You must leave. She said that the risks were too high.
Northern New Mexico was the epicenter of the largest fires. There were two large fires that merged, and many villages were under threat from the advancing flames. Residents ignored warnings to evacuate.
Maggie Mulligan claimed that Friday's panicked dogs sensed her husband's anxiety as she packed them up and agonized about leaving horses behind. They fled from a wildfire that was moving quickly towards their home.
She said, "We don’t know what’s next." "We don’t know if it’s possible to go back to horses."
Mulligan and Bill Gombas (67), were among those who evacuated their homes in panic Friday, ahead of the ominous wildfires that would be sparked by ferocious winds and tinder-dry conditions.
Mike Johnson, a fire information officer, stated that while some structures were destroyed by the merged fires, no figures were available. "They were able save some structures, but we know that other structures we were not able to defend were destroyed."
Jesus Romero, San Miguel County assistant county manager, stated that wind-blown dust clouds and smoke plumes obscured the sky near the fires. They're dealing with all the ugly things that spring brings to New Mexico.
Romero stated that approximately 500 homes in San Miguel were located in rural areas in Mora and San Miguel counties, which were covered by evacuation orders or warning signs.
The National Weather Service reported that the Denver area's fire danger was at its highest since over a decade. This is due to unseasonable temperatures of the 80s, strong winds, and dry conditions.
Lena Atencio, her husband and their five-generation-old family have lived in the Rociada region for five generations. They moved out Friday when winds picked up. She stated that most people took the threat seriously.
"As a community as a whole, everyone is just pulling together and supporting each other. We just need to take care of what we need now. Then, it's in God’s hands." She said, as wind howled miles away from Las Vegas, New Mexico where evacuees were gathered.
Philmont Scout Ranch was one of the areas ordered to evacuate Saturday because of another large fire that is still burning in northern New Mexico. Officials from Colfax County said that the nearby Cimarron was still on alert for possible evacuation.
Officials say that the Boy Scouts of America owns and operates the scout ranch. However, thousands of summer visitors visit the ranch each year.
As the flames rose through rural areas Tuesday, many other buildings were also set on fire by the Flagstaff-area fire.
According to Dick Fleishman, a shift in wind caused crews to work Saturday to prevent the fire from reaching homes or up mountainsides near rural areas. It has made us a little more concerned.