Burning now for more than a month, the largest wildfire in the U.S. was spreading toward mountain resort towns in northern New Mexico on Wednesday, prompting officials to issue another set of warnings for more people to evacuate.
“Day 36,” fire spokesman Bill Morse said at a briefing Wednesday night. “Ever since April 6, this fire has grown day by day by day.”
Meanwhile, a wildfire that erupted Wednesday afternoon in coastal Southern California raced through coastal bluffs of multimillion-dollar mansions, burning at least 20 homes, fire officials said. The flames were fanned by gusty ocean winds but they were dying down Wednesday night. No injuries were reported but several streets were ordered evacuated.
The fire, which occurred in Laguna Niguel, was relatively small at about 200 acres (81 hectares) but the wind drove embers into palm trees, attics and dense, dry brush on slopes and steep canyons that hadn’t burned for decades, Brian Fennessy, chief of the Orange County Fire Authority, said at an evening news conference.
Fennessy said climate change has made even small fires that once would have been easily contained into extreme threats to life and property throughout the West.
As night fell, fire officials in New Mexico said the fastest-moving flames along the eastern front of the Sangre de Cristo range on the southern end of the Rockies were headed farther northeast — away from the area’s biggest population center in Taos, a well-known tourist enclave 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of the Colorado line.
“Currently no issues in the Taos area,” fire operations chief Todd Abel said. “The fire is kind of wanting to move to the north and east a little bit. But we’re still going to pay close attention.”
Some aircraft were able to fly to drop retardant on the blaze despite winds gusting in some areas in excess of 45 mph (72 kph). And some evacuation orders were relaxed along the southern flank of the fire near Las Vegas, New Mexico — more than 50 miles (80 km) south of the flames on the northern perimeter.
Additional crews were on order to join the more than 1,800 personnel fighting the fire, and forecasters said conditions should be more favorable by the weekend if crews can hold their ground through another red-flag warning stretch into Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, the most active part of the wind-fueled fire northeast of Mora was tossing hot embers farther into unburned territory giving the fire an even bigger foothold on the tinder-dry landscape.
“Another hot, dry, windy day. No surprises there,” fire incident meteorologist Makoto Moore said at Wednesday night’s briefing in Las Vegas.
After growing more than 50 square miles (130 square kilometers) the day before, the fire had charred more than 370 square miles (958 square kilometers) by Wednesday morning. Evacuations were ordered for villages south of the resort town of Angel Fire east of Taos, where residents were told to also be packed and ready to go.
The towering plume of smoke created by the raging wildfire could be seen hundreds of miles …read more
Source:: Headlines News4jax
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