New Mexico governor requests disaster status for wildfire

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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. 

A firefighting plane flies in front of a plume of smoke near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

A firefighting plane flies in front of a plume of smoke near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
(AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

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. 

Leonard Padilla and 5-year-old Ivan Padilla watch a wildfire burning near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. 

Leonard Padilla and 5-year-old Ivan Padilla watch a wildfire burning near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

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.

In this Sunday, May 1, 2022 photo provided by Jasper Bivens of Grayback Forestry, plumes of smoke from wildfires are seen from Highway 518, a few miles north of Las Vegas, N.M.

In this Sunday, May 1, 2022 photo provided by Jasper Bivens of Grayback Forestry, plumes of smoke from wildfires are seen from Highway 518, a few miles north of Las Vegas, N.M.
(Jasper Bives via AP)

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. 

A firefighting airplane drops slurry on a wildfire near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. 

A firefighting airplane drops slurry on a wildfire near Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

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.



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