The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes, and more extreme weather means stronger, hotter and drier winds to fan the flames. — © AFP
The largest wildfire in the U.S. is spreading toward mountain resort towns in northern New Mexico. Meanwhile, a wildfire that erupted Wednesday afternoon in coastal Southern California raced through coastal bluffs of multimillion-dollar mansions, burning at least 20 homes.
The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire prompted Colfax County officials to issue new evacuation orders, as the flames from the nation’s largest wildfire move toward the Angel fire, just 12 miles away.
“So as the fire continues to move north, it will continue to impact communities to the north as well as to the west and to the east. Our folks are running models to predict the fire behavior,” said David Bales, incident commander.
Some aircraft were able to fly to drop retardant on the blaze despite winds gusting in some areas in excess of 45 mph (72 kph). And some evacuation orders were relaxed along the southern flank of the fire near Las Vegas, New Mexico – more than 50 miles (80 km) south of the flames on the northern perimeter.
Additional crews have been ordered in to join the more than 1,800 firefighters already on the lines, and it is hoped that conditions will be more favorable by the weekend if crews can hold their ground through another red-flag warning stretch into Thursday evening.
According to InciWeb, the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire has burned 259,810 acres and is 29 percent contained as of May 12, 2022.
Southern California fire
A fire in the city of Laguna Niguel started Wednesday afternoon and grew to about 200 acres (81 hectares) as it ripped through mansions that sit along parched hillside streets in one of California’s most affluent neighborhoods.
The fire was fueled by gusty winds that reached up to 30 mph in the area, according to nearby observations from the National Weather Service. No injuries were reported but several streets were ordered evacuated.
Brian Fennessy, chief of the Orange County Fire Authority, at an evening news conference said the fire was fueled by dry brush on slopes and steep canyons that hadn’t burned for decades.
He added that climate change has made even small fires that once would have been easily contained into extreme threats to life and property throughout the West.
According to Cal Fire, the brush fire has burned 195 acres and is 0 percent contained.