Fire in New Mexico: Crews make progress on state’s largest blaze

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Firefighting personnel worked to fight the nation’s largest active wildfire, making progress on Monday. 

The merged Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fires in New Mexico are now 50% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. 

The flames have spread over 315,627 acres and there are more than 3,000 people working to battle the blaze.

The Forest Service said Tuesday that community meetings for the incident would be cut back, in collaboration with the Santa Fe National Forest. 

NEW MEXICO’S LARGEST WILDFIRE TRACED BACK TO FOREST SERVICE PRESCRIBED BURNS

“This change is a direct result of the positive progress firefighters have made in containing this fire and limiting fire growth. Daily operational updates will still be available on social media and will be posted at various locations around the fire,” it said, noting that new evacuation statuses were issued Monday for residents of San Miguel, Mora, Taos, Colfax and Santa Fe counties.

The Forest Service highlighted that San Miguel County had lifted evacuation orders for several areas and downgraded pre-evacuation warnings in others.

Missoula Montana Fire Engine on May 27, 2022, working to protect homes in Big Pines from New Mexico's Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires.

Missoula Montana Fire Engine on May 27, 2022, working to protect homes in Big Pines from New Mexico’s Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires. (Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service)

The nearly eight-week-old fire, which has destroyed what is expected to be more than 1,000 homes and other structures, is forecast to see better weather conditions on Tuesday after four consecutive days of extreme fire conditions. 

Thunderstorms could develop there on Wednesday night through Friday, according to The Associated Press. 

AS WEATHER SHIFTS, FIRE IN NEW MEXICO NEARS 50% CONTAINMENT

Last week, the Forest Service said the Calf Canyon Fire had also been traced to a planned burn. 

“It is evident that the federal government must take a hard look at their fire management practices and make sure they account for a rapidly changing climate. New Mexico and the West must take every precaution to prevent fires of this magnitude from occurring, especially as precipitation levels continue to decrease and temperatures rise,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement in response to the news. 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 5,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the country.

Fires have burned over 1.8 million acres so far this year – more than a million acres above the 10-year average.

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Western wildfires have become a year-round threat and scientists and fire experts say they are moving faster and burning hotter than ever.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.