New Mexico fire personnel make progress ahead of windy weekend

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Personnel working to battle New Mexico wildfires made progress on Thursday due to favorable weather. 

Fires there have been driven by windy and dry conditions, scorching grass, brush and tinder. 

BIDEN APPROVES DISASTER DECLARATION FOR NEW MEXICO WILDFIRES

The blazes destroyed structures and forced the evacuations of thousands. 

The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak complex stretched 168,009 acres and remained 20% contained on Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

More than 1,370 personnel on the ground and in the air are working to fight the fire, and the agency said a “lot of progress” was made on Thursday due to “moderated” winds. 

A scooper plane drops water to reinforce firing operations along New Mexico's Highway 283

A scooper plane drops water to reinforce firing operations along New Mexico’s Highway 283
(Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

Crews working on the Cerro Pelado Fire also were able to make headway, with more than 750 total personnel on the scene. 

The fire, which led to additional evacuations, has spread over 32,121 acres and is 13% contained.

However, the situation is expected to change over the weekend, with extreme fire weather and strong winds exacerbating the threat. 

“The upcoming wind event is predicted to be historic due to the duration and the area it will impact,” the Forest Service warned. “It is critical that people continue to watch for changes in evacuation status and pay attention to emergency notifications.”

TORNADOES CAUSE WIDESPREAD DAMAGE IN TEXAS, OKLAHOMA

Fox Weather reported that an early-season heat wave is expected from Texas to the South and Midwest into next week.

The southwestern winds are expected to move over the Sierra Madre mountain range and warm, according to Fox Weather Meteorologist Nick Kosir. 

Kosir said Roswell, New Mexico, could see a potential record high temperature of 101. 

Firefighters hold the line along New Mexico's Highway 283 on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Firefighters hold the line along New Mexico’s Highway 283 on Wednesday, May 4, 2022
(Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

Elsewhere in the Southwest, above-normal wildfire conditions in much of Arizona led officials to place restrictions on campfires and other fire sources. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor showed, on a map released Thursday, that 91.09% of the West is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought. 

Wildfires have become a year-round threat in the region. 

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Scientists and fire experts say they are moving faster and burning hotter than ever due to climate change

Since Jan. 1, 2022. 22,530 wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres nationally, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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