Gusty winds fuel wildfires in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado

More than 5,000 firefighters are battling multiple wildland blazes in dry, windy weather across the Southwest

Via AP news wire
Friday 20 May 2022 01:09

More than 5,000 firefighters battled multiple wildland blazes in dry, windy weather across the Southwest on Thursday, including a fire that has destroyed dozens of structures in west Texas and another that's picking up steam again in New Mexico.

Evacuation orders remained in place for residents near the wildfires in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Dangerous fire weather involving gusty winds, high temperatures and extremely low humidity was predicted to continue through Friday — especially in New Mexico, where the largest U.S. wildfire burned for more than a month and the governor expects the number of structures destroyed will exceed 1,000.

More than 2,100 fire personnel with fighting that blaze, which has burned more than 473 square miles (1,225 square kilometers) of timber and brush in a region east of Santa Fe and south of Taos. Only about one-third of the fire's perimeter is estimated contained.

With winds gusting up to 40 mph (64 kph), red flag warnings signalling extreme wildfire danger were in effect until 10 p.m. — much later into the night than is typical. Gusts closer to 50 mph (80 kph) were expected on Friday, said the wildfire's incident meteorologist, Bladen Breitreiter.

In Texas, the Texas A&M Forestry Service said the fire that has burned dozens of homes was still only 5% contained Thursday afternoon after charring more than 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) of juniper and mesquite brush 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Abilene.

That fire had prompted the evacuation of the historic town of Buffalo Gap on Wednesday. Forestry Service spokesman Stuart Morris said the town had reopened Thursday, but a wind shift expected later Thursday could pose a new threat.

No injuries had been reported as of Thursday afternoon, but Morris said 27 structures had been destroyed. It wasn't immediately clear how many of them were residences.

All of West Texas was under a red flag wildfire danger warning Thursday, with an underlying drought and critically to extremely dry vegetation combining with 100-degree temperatures Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) and gusty winds.

However, the Forestry Service said a new weather pattern by the weekend is expected to usher in cooler temperatures and moisture that could limit potential for wildfire activity on Saturday and Sunday.

Wildfires have broken out this spring earlier than usual across multiple states in the western U.S., where climate change and an enduring drought are fanning the frequency and intensity of forest and grassland fires.

____

Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas and Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in