On Saturday, the U.S. Southwest was engulfed in warnings about critical fire conditions. Crews from northern New Mexico tried to stop the spread of the largest active wildfire in the country.
Since April's planned burns, this fire has burned 4,912 square miles (1,272 km) of forest in rugged terrain east Santa Fe.
Crews patrolled partially-burned areas, cutting and removing containment lines near the fire and as bulldozers scavenged backup lines further away, they were also clearing them.
Red flag warnings were issued by the National Weather Service about critical fire conditions in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas. These conditions include strong wind, low relative humidity, and dry vegetation.
Officials warned that there was a risk of more fire activity in the Memorial Day weekend due to the return of warmer and drier weather and stronger winds. They also advised the public to lock their vehicles and be cautious around possible fire sources.
Jayson Coil (operations section chief) stated that "the last thing we need right away is another ignition."
Forecasts predicted wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 km/h), with severe fire conditions continuing into Monday. However, favorable weather will follow later in the week, according to Bruno Rodriguez, the meteorologist for the fire management team.
John Chest, a fire operations manger, stated that strong winds can fan flames and cause fire to race ahead.
Imagine yourself driving in your car, and the fire could outpace you. Chester stated that this is the extreme fire behavior we are referring to.
Nearly 3000 firefighters and other personnel were sent to the fire. It was contained within 48% of its perimeter.
Initial estimates indicate that the fire has already destroyed at least 330 houses. However, state officials anticipate that the number of homes or other structures that have been damaged will rise to over 1,000 after more assessments.
150 firefighters battled wind-driven fires that burned 9 miles (24 kilometers) of grass, brush, and salt cedar along the California side the Colorado River, about 14 miles (22.5 km) southwest of Parker in Arizona.
Officials said that the fire, which started on Thursday and was 44% contained by Saturday, forced the evacuation.
Investigators are currently investigating the cause of the fire.