LAS VEGAS, N.M. – State fire officials in New Mexico are warning of an increase in fire activity Tuesday as temperatures rise and dry conditions persist across the region.
This news comes as the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fire continues to grow, so far burning 299,565 acres with only 26% containment.
It is now the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.
Nearly 2,100 firefighters are working to contain the fire, with suppression efforts coming from both the ground and the air.
The Hermits Peak fire began as a prescribed burn on April 9 but became uncontrollable when winds picked up and scattered embers across the area. The cause of the Calf Canyon fire, which started on April 19, is still under investigation.
The two fires then merged into one large fire as the flames continued to spread.
Residents within the fire’s premier were told to remain on high alert for changes to evacuation statuses and road closures as the fire continues to spread.
Thousands of residents were told to leave the area because of the fire, and nearly 200 homes have been burned so far.
For more information on evacuation orders, click here.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Mora County Sheriff’s Office said power had been cut off to some of the evacuated areas. It will remain off until conditions are safe for those who are fighting the fire and law enforcement officers.
Officials also announced that effective May 19, the Santa Fe National Forest will close, prohibiting public access across the entire 1.6 million-acre forest. The extreme fire danger and active wildfires prompted the closure throughout the end of the year.
Smoke from wildfires burning across the Southwest has led to unhealthy and hazardous air quality levels in New Mexico.
Most of New Mexico will remain under moderate air quality levels on Tuesday, which means the air quality is acceptable for most people. Still, some people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution may be at risk.
However, areas around Santa Fe and Alamogordo have been placed into the very unhealthy to hazardous categories.
And because of the hazardous air quality conditions, Air Quality Alerts have been issued by the New Mexico Departments of Health and Environment for Grant and Sierra counties, including the communities of Silver City, Lake Roberts, Kingston, Fort Bayard, Hillsboro, Winston, Truth or Consequences, Derry and Spaceport.
When the air quality becomes very unhealthy or hazardous, most people will be affected.
The National Weather Service suggests that people should remain indoors if possible when the air quality is unhealthy, especially people with respiratory concerns or other health problems. And if you do need to go outside, try to limit the time you're out in the elements and try to minimize the use of items that could cause pollution, like cars, gas-powered lawnmowers and other vehicles.