Two wildfires in New Mexico combined and have burned 54,004 acres of land since they first merged, according to an update by New Mexico Fire Information. The fires—separately known as Calf Canyon fire and Hermits Peak fire—first combined on April 24, 2022. The blaze is located near Gallinas Canyon, northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
What’s making things worse is high-wind speeds. That’s pushing the wildfires over dry grasslands, serving as fuel. However, a little break in those wind speeds allowed firefighters to gain access to the fire on April 23. In response to the growing number of wildfires currently ablaze in New Mexico, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office and Mora County issued evacuation orders in several counties across the state, according to a news release posted on San Miguel County’s website.
“Yesterday, we experienced a combination of conditions, quite frankly, that is unprecedented in New Mexico history,” New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a press conference on April 23, as reported by KRQE News.
The Southwest U.S. is currently being battered by wildfires. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho is reporting 13 active wildfires in the U.S., six of which are located in New Mexico, three in Arizona, and one in Texas. According to a report published this past September by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association’s Drought Task Force, the Southwest experienced record low precipitation and extremely high temperatures, resulting in widespread drought across the region from January 2020 to August 2021.
As the likelihood of drought conditions increases due to changing climate, so too does the threat of wildfires. Meanwhile, evacuations in New Mexico continue as more than 400 firefighters and personnel battle the blaze.