Strong Winds Fuel Wildfires in New Mexico

NEWS: Strong Winds Fuel Wildfires in New Mexico

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The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire is the second largest on record in New Mexico, after a fire that burned through more than 297,000 acres in 2012, and it has eclipsed the total acreage lost to fires in the state in 2021.

Because of the fires, Xavier Becerra, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, declared a public health emergency for New Mexico on Monday. The move will allow people enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid to receive some treatments without meeting certain requirements.

Last week, President Biden approved a disaster declaration for five counties in New Mexico that have been affected by wildfires: Colfax, Lincoln, San Miguel, Valencia and Mora.

In Mora County, where the Cooks Peak fire has spread to more than 59,000 acres, people were ordered to evacuate their homes on Sunday, and several shelters were set up by emergency officials. Some traveled north with their livestock, and ended up at the Juan I. Gonzales Agricultural Center, an exhibition and 4-H activity space in Taos County.

The evacuees, many of whom brought only their medications and a few belongings, have settled in on cots and eaten meals provided by local churches, Bobby Lucero, the county emergency management officer, said on Monday.

β€œWe have been able to house sheeps, goats and lambs,” he said. β€œSome of these folks make their living off of livestock.”

β€œAs far as morale goes, they are patient,” he said. β€œBut you can tell they want to go back home.”

Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.

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