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Damage estimates climb from massive New Mexico wildfire

Damage estimates climb from massive New Mexico wildfire

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico, USA (AP) – The destruction caused by the largest wildfire in the United States has been devastating to thousands of residents and their lives have been interrupted and altered forever, the governor of New Mexico said on Monday. Tuesday after touring the damage in a county.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham met with homeowners and local officials while inspecting homes in two of the many small towns in northern New Mexico that have been engulfed by flames in recent weeks after two planned government operations to clear areas covered of forest vegetation gone wrong. .

The first-term Democrat is preparing for a visit Saturday with President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to make a quick stop in New Mexico for briefings on the wildfires and recovery efforts.

The largest fire has burned nearly 500 square miles (1,295 square kilometers) in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, which sits at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. Residents of the rural area have been highly critical of the role of the federal government in starting the fire.

The governor’s office confirmed Tuesday that several hundred homes are estimated to have been destroyed by the fire. That number will likely increase as inspections and documentation are underway.

“I saw firsthand the irreparable damage that has been done, with historic homes and livelihoods lost to the flames,” the governor said in a statement after her tour. “But I was also reminded of the resilience of New Mexicans: I saw neighbors helping neighbors with the same compassion that New Mexicans always show each other in difficult times.”

The governor also learned where recovery aid has been helpful and where gaps remain.

Lujan Grisham and other top elected officials have called for the federal government to cover 100% of the recovery costs. Some have also called for an independent investigation of the US Forest Service’s prescribed fire protocols, even though the agency has suspended such operations pending its own investigation.

While New Mexico has suffered through the worst of fire season so far this year, much of the west has marked remarkably hot, dry and windy conditions. Predictions for the rest of the season do not bode well, as drought and warmer weather brought on by climate change worsen the fire danger in the region’s overgrown forests.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported Tuesday that thousands of wildland firefighters were working to contain eight major fires that have burned more than 1,130 square miles (2,927 square kilometers). Five of those fires are in New Mexico, while Alaska, Arizona and Colorado each have one.

In Alaska, crews were working to protect several structures from a fire burning west of Talkeetna.


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Damage estimates climb from massive New Mexico wildfire

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