Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Megafire becomes largest fire in New Mexico History, Carson & Santa Fe National Forests closed

Conditions are critical and expected to worsen, a grim portent for a drought-stricken western U.S.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 2:33 PM MDT
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TAOS COUNTY, N.M. (KJCT) - Conditions in New Mexico continue to rapidly deteriorate with the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Megafire burning through over 2,000 acres of bone-dry vegetation overnight, and the situation is not expected to stabilize in the foreseeable future. Fuel sources like downed trees and other dead vegetation remain unusually dry due to severe drought conditions combined with persistently low humidity, high temperatures, and strong spring winds.

The fire remains 34% contained, with no change from yesterday.

All zones of the fire contain extremely dry fuels, with ignition probability for some zones reaching between 90 and 100 percent. Green grass is described as “nonexistent” by fire personnel. Wind remains strong, with speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour and gusts of up to 25 miles per hour observed. Thunderstorms that would normally bring precipitation have not formed as expected due to the exceptionally low humidity. Critical fire conditions are expected to continue through Friday.

Taos County Sheriff’s Office has also established stage 3 restrictions and closed the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests due to the extreme fire danger present in the region. Danger is expected to remain extreme and will likely continue to worsen, which means the forests will not be reopening for the foreseeable future. Until the area receives substantial moisture, prospective visitors will not be allowed within the forest boundaries. Taos County Sherriff deputies will be on regular patrols.

Smoke from the fire has reached as far south as El Salvador and as far north as Nova Scotia, reaching into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

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