Wildfires in New Mexico destroying communities and displacing residents
Web Editor:International Daily
Wildfires which have been burning for more than a month in New Mexico have destroyed homes and forced thousands to leave their homes, as strong winds and dry conditions threaten to spread the fires even further.
The wildfires, the largest currently burning in the U.S., have already scorched more than 318 square miles (824 square kilometers) of ponderosa forests across the state, leaving firefighters hoping for a break in the dry, windy weather to help them battle the ferocious fires.
In Rociada, residents have seen their properties destroyed by the fire, known as the Calf Canyon fire, leaving some areas that have been inhabited for generations desolate.
When local resident David Jackson Hagar finally made it back to what was once his home after multiple evacuation orders, the scale of the destruction was overwhelming.
"It's been really tough. We just got back yesterday, and we're worried we might have to leave again. We've already been displaced twice," said Hagar.
Exhausted firefighters battling the blaze are keeping a close eye on the weather, but with no let up in the wind and no rain in the forecast the fear is the fire will continue to spread and become the largest wildfire in state history.
'Red flag' winds, with gusts between 80 to 120 kilometers an hour, have blown for days on end, including a continuous 59 hour stretch that experienced firefighters say is unprecedented.
"That's been a huge challenge for us. And I've been doing this for just about three and a half decades and I have not seen that many red flag events in a row, specifically this last event we just went through, it was up to five days straight of a red flag, you know day and night," said Dave Bales, an incident commander.
Dave Dubois, a New Mexico State climatologist, says the multiplying effects of climate change were creating a dangerous situation.
"We knew that the temperatures are going to be above average, it's going to be dry, and the forests are already stressed, but you never know what nature's going to throw at you, when you're dealing with multiplying effects of climate change as well as these droughts," said Dubois.