AP

Critical fire condition warnings issued across US Southwest

May 28, 2022, 12:11 PM | Updated: May 29, 2022, 4:27 pm

Warnings of critical fire conditions blanketed much of the U.S. Southwest on Saturday, as crews in northern New Mexico worked to stop the growth of the nation’s largest active wildfire.

The 7-week-old fire, the largest in New Mexico history, has burned 491 square miles (1,272 square kilometers) of forest in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe since being started in April by two planned burns.

Crews were patrolling partially burned areas and clearing and cutting containment lines, including primary ones near the fire as bulldozers scraped backup lines farther away.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire conditions for parts of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Those conditions are combination of strong wind, low relative humidity and dry vegetation.

The return of return of drier and warmer weather with stronger winds posed a threat of increased fire activity over the Memorial Day weekend, prompting officials to urge the public to secure vehicle chains and to be careful with possible fire sources.

“The last thing we need right now is another ignition,” said Jayson Coil, an operations section chief.

Forecasts called for wind gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph), with critical fire conditions continuing into Monday, followed by more favorable weather later in the coming week, said Bruno Rodriguez, the fire management team’s meteorologist.

The strong winds could fan flames and cause the fire to jump containment lines and race forward, said John Chest, a fire operations manager.

“Imagine traveling in your car and the fire can outpace you. That’s the kind of extreme fire behavior that we’re talking about,” Chester said.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the fire, which was contained around 48% of its perimeter.

Initial estimates say the fire has destroyed at least 330 homes but state officials expect the number of homes and other structures that have burned to rise to more than 1,000 as more assessments are done.

Elsewhere, 150 firefighters battled a wind-driven fire that burned 9 square miles (24 square kilometers) of grass, brush and salt cedar about 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) southwest of Parker, Arizona. Winds up to 30 mph forced the California blaze to jump the Colorado River into Arizona on Saturday afternoon.

The fire forced the evacuation of a recreational vehicle park after starting Thursday and was 44% contained, officials said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

___

Davenport reported from Phoenix.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

2 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

6 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

16 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

17 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

20 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Critical fire condition warnings issued across US Southwest