Fires prompt evacuations in New Mexico, California
PECOS, N.M. — As firefighters gained ground Friday on a wildfire in the mountains north of Los Angeles, a fast-moving fire in New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest prompted evacuations, threatened cabins and vacation homes, and closed a highway.
Officials asked residents in 140 homes — mostly used for the summer — to evacuate as crews battled the 3.1-square-mile blaze near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas, about 25 miles west of Santa Fe.
They worked on containment lines in hopes of preventing the fire from moving toward the capital city’s watershed.
Officials said the fire doubled in size by Friday afternoon and was zero percent contained. That prompted New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to declare a state of emergency in San Miguel County to free up state money to fight the fire.
New Mexico State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware said the evacuations occurred when the fire jumped state Highway 63.
Officials said a downed power line ignited the blaze on Thursday. It’s the first major wildfire this year in New Mexico, which is in its driest two-year period in 12 decades of record keeping.
Meanwhile, crews battling the fire north of Los Angeles took advantage of cool morning weather to make progress Friday, but scattered flames continued to climb hillsides.
The 2.2-square-mile wildfire was 15 percent contained, and as many as 500 firefighters hoped to make further progress before the day turned hot and dry, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said.
A flare-up prompted authorities to briefly evacuate about 25 homes along a canyon road in the Angeles National Forest in the morning, but residents were later allowed to return.
“Right now, the fire’s not doing a whole lot. It’s just making small runs here and there,” Judy said. “There’s no large fire front.”