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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked President Biden on Tuesday to declare a disaster, as the state’s wildfires continue to rage.
Lujan Grisham’s request will be sent to the White House, in the hopes of freeing up financial aid to go toward recovery efforts.
NEW MEXICO FIRES EXPECTED TO SPREAD AS RESIDENTS FLEE
“I’m unwilling to wait,” she said. “I have families who don’t know what the next day looks like, I have families who are trying to navigate their children and health care resources, figure out their livelihoods and they’re in every single little community and it must feel to them like they are out there on their own.”
Lujan Grisham had already signed emergency declarations in several threatened counties.
Additional evacuation orders were in place on Tuesday night due to the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fires.
Thousands more were impacted by the fires, according to the governor, who said the number of homes destroyed is likely to increase.
The U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday that the fires were still 20% contained, spanning 160,104 acres.
More than 1,200 personnel – both on the ground and in the air – are working to put out the blazes.
FIRE IN SOUTHWEST FORCES MORE EVACUATIONS
Another New Mexico wildfire burning to the northeast has forced the evacuations of about 800 homes, and a separate fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory prompted the evacuation of about 200 homes.
New Mexico has been swept by waves of hot, dry and windy weather, and Fox Weather reported Wednesday that most of the state is under a fire weather warning.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) said Wednesday that, currently, 12 uncontained large fires have burned 279,172 acres in five states.
New fires were reported in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and the NIFC noted that there are more than 3,500 wildland firefighters and support personnel assigned to incidents in the Southwest and southern and eastern areas.
Since Jan. 1, 22,530 wildfires have burned over 1.1 million acres nationally.
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Wildfires have become a year-round threat in the drought-stricken West.
Scientists and fire experts say they are moving faster and burning hotter than ever due to climate change,
The Associated Press contributed to this report.