New Mexico will receive additional federal resources to help respond to the devastating wildfires being fueled by straight-line winds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for New Mexico on Wednesday, which will provide federal funding to residents affected by the fires in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel and Valencia counties. These funds can include grants for housing, home repairs and other property damages.
Those affected by the fires can register for federal assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
The federal assistance comes as strong winds, low humidity and above-average temperatures are forecast this weekend for areas already facing ongoing fires.
The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak complex fire has burned more than 165,200 acres northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico, which would cover most of New York City. The fire is 20% contained, and wildfire crews continue to work to secure containment lines ahead of hot temperatures and winds this weekend.
The Hermits Peak fire started on April 6 as a prescribed burn in Santa Fe National Forest, but gusty winds blew the fire out of control.
The Cooks Peak Fire started April 17 and has scorched 59,359 acres in north Ocate, New Mexico. The fire is 97% contained as of Thursday, and some evacuation orders in Colfax County have been reduced.
The following communities remain under "ready" evacuation status, which means residents should be ready to evacuate: Philmont Scout Ranch Back Country west of State Road 21, Sweetwater, Rayado, Sunnyside and Philmont Scout Ranch Headquarters.
Mora County residents who were under the Cooks Peak Fire evacuation map are now under the Calf Canyon/Hermit's Peak evacuation map.
According to the NWS Office in Albuquerque, strong southwest winds, very low humidity and above-average temperatures will create a recipe for potential widespread extreme fire behavior this weekend into next week.
Temperatures will begin to soar on Friday, with highs forecast in the upper 90s in southern New Mexico and the mid-80s for Albuquerque.
A prolonged period of windy conditions is forecast for Saturday through mid-week.
"This is bad news as ongoing fires, or new ones, will have the opportunity to spread rapidly," the NWS Albuquerque Office tweeted. "Be on high alert, and have a go bag in case of evacuation."