New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared states of emergency in five counties due to wildfires that have burned through large swaths of the drought-stricken state.
The democratic governor declared states of emergency for Colfax, Lincoln, San Miguel, and Valencia Counties on Friday, and issued a similar declaration for Mora County on Saturday due to the fire threat
“This executive order makes funding and state resources available for communities battling ongoing wildfires,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
Over 20 active wildfires were burning in at least 16 of New Mexico’s 33 counties, Grisham said during a briefing streamed online. “So half the state has a fire issue.”
The declarations for the five counties made available $3 million for the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to help counties with emergency measures, prevent additional damages, repair infrastructure, and help lessen recovery time, according to the governor’s office.
Two large fires, the Calf Canyon Fire and the Hermits Peak Fire east of Santa Fe, have merged. Together, the fires have burned over 42,300 acres, officials announced early Saturday, adding that due to the merging of the two fires, “containment has not been able to be accurately calculated.”
The extreme weather caused an uncontrolled fire line and resulted in structure loss; damage assessments are ongoing, officials said. A red flag warning was issued on Saturday due to west winds with speeds up to 25 mph and gusts above 40 mph.
Meanwhile, the Cooks Peak fire in Mora County had burned through over 48,600 acres and was 0 percent contained as of Saturday morning, fire officials said. The cause of the fire, which began on April 17, is still unknown and is under investigation.
New evacuations orders have been issued for Mora County amid a strong cold front moving across the state’s north on Saturday, bringing gusty, erratic winds.
New Mexico, as of Saturday, had the most major wildfires burning of any state, though neighboring Arizona also had large fires, including one that burned 30 homes near Flagstaff on Tuesday.