September 30, 2022

New Mexico wildfires: Taming the 2nd-largest wildfire in state history has been a ‘nightmare,’ firefighter says

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At one point, great Hermes Peak / Calf Canyon Fire Spreading at 50 miles per hour, Travis Regensberg, a general contractor brought in from New Mexico to help protect homes and buildings.

“It was a nightmare,” Regensberg told CNN on Thursday. “It’s been really hard for us. I’ve been sleeping for 17 consecutive days to protect the communities here – three to four hours a night.”

He said firefighters were guarding the buildings and cutting off the fire lines by making a circle around them and using bulldozers. In addition, they try to minimize damage to the septic and well system so that people have a “place to go.”

Strong winds have been the biggest challenge for firefighters.

He added, “This fire is a sleeping animal. I mean, I call it the devil.”

A major disaster has been declared in New Mexico, federal aid has been unlocked as wildfires threaten thousands of homes
The Monster Forest fire is a combination of two fires that broke out about 12 miles northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Collectively, the fire burned more than 166,000 acres by the end of Thursday, with 20 percent contained, according to the Interagency Reporting website. Inciweb.
This is the second largest wildfire in the history of the state. According to Gov. Michelle Logan Gresham. Authorities warned that dozens of homes had been destroyed and that more than 15,000 people were at risk.

“I’m 71, I’ve never seen it so bad, so big – I mean, it was huge,” resident Barbara Kohl told CNN.

She said Barbara Kohl and her husband, David Kohl, lost power at their home in Holman, north of the affected area, but were grateful that their home was saved.

Kohl said the sky is blue where she lives, but she is thinking of people who are not so lucky.

“I’m just praying for people who are in danger, or houses or structures,” he said. “Our friends have lost everything, almost everything … It’s really sad.”

Staff are fighting five other forest fires in the state. According to National Intelligence Fire Center. So far this year, about 300,000 acres in New Mexico have been burned – more than in the past two years, according to CNN meteorologist Brendan Miller.
President Joe Biden Announced a great catastrophe In response to a wildfire in New Mexico that allowed the state access to critical federal aid.
Firefighters are battling a Calf Canyon / Hermit Peak fire near Las Vegas, New Mexico, on Thursday.

The crew is ready for the weekend.

Dave Bells, the incident’s commander, told CNN that winds had eased on Thursday and were expected to calm down on Friday, which could lead to some progress in controlling the fire.

“The fire is actually burning today (Thursday),” Bells said.

But authorities are warning that the winds will intensify again this weekend – making it even more difficult to put out the fire.

New Mexico asked Biden for more resources to fight the wildfires: 'I have evacuated 6,000 people.  Do I have a family that doesn't know what the next day looks like?
“Staff have made significant progress in preventing and rebuilding fire lines and structures around the fire ahead of the expected strong winds this weekend,” Gresham said in a statement. Tweet

Gary Zell, a meteorologist with the US Forest Service, warned that clouds and smoke, along with low humidity and wind direction, would contribute to “extremely hot conditions” from the weekend to Tuesday next week.

Bells added that earlier, the area was experiencing severe fire weather, which led to 24 red flag incidents in 30 days. Red flag alerts are issued when weather conditions are critical for wildfires to spark or spread.

About 30 towns in San Miguel and Mora County are on full evacuation notice due to wildfires.

“This is a long-term event, and we do not expect the fire to be brought under control any time soon,” according to a statement from both counties.

CNN’s Hannah Sarison and Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.

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