Warm, windy conditions elevate fire danger in New Mexico

April 26, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters and land managers are warning that warm, windy and dry conditions are combining to boost fire danger around New Mexico as authorities called for evacuations due to a wildfire burning in the Smokey Bear Ranger District.

Smoke billowed Monday afternoon on the backside of the White Mountains in an area between the rural communities of Tularosa and Carrizozo. Evacuation notices were issued for parts of Lincoln County that included Nogal and Bonito canyons and the Ski Apache area, but authorities did not say whether any structures were immediately threatened by the fast-moving wildfire.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque said critical fire weather was expected to shift Tuesday to the eastern part of the state, while much of central and southern New Mexico would see more unsettled weather by Wednesday and Thursday.

The city of Las Cruces issued a temporary ban on open burning in hopes of preventing any wildfires, and the first stage of fire restrictions will take effect Tuesday on the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

“We have seen an increase in abandoned campfires and feel it’s critical to reduce the potential for any additional fire starts during this period of drought and high fire danger,” said Adam Mendonca, the forest supervisor.

More than half of New Mexico is dealing with exceptional drought conditions, making for a much worse situation than just a year ago.