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The rapid spread of wildfires worries New Mexico officials

Due to the persistent danger, county officials have not been able to provide a complete account of how many structures have been destroyed or damaged. But Joy Ansley, San Miguel County County Chief, said that before the Hermits Peak / Calf Canyon fire broke out Friday, it had destroyed 200 structures.

Eight other fires also burned in the state on Saturday. New Mexico is one of several states that have dealt with forest fires this spring, driven by strong winds and dry conditions likely to be linked to climate change.

In Arizona, firefighters were putting out the tunnel fire, which had burned 19,075 acres in the central part of the state near Flagstaff, according to InciWeb, a government website that tracks forest fires. The fire was 92 percent fought Saturday night.

About 100 miles southwest of this fire, Crooks Fire near Mount Union had burned more than 9,000 acres and was 38 percent enclosed, according to InciWeb. And in Nebraska, firefighters had contained 97 percent of the Road 702 fire, which had burned about 44,000 acres, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Roger Montoya, a state representative in New Mexico whose district includes three counties currently affected by fires, spent time last week with a team that provided food and other supplies to residents who had not yet traveled. Some are without power, he said.

“There is an aversion to individuals to leave their homes,” he said.

Samuel Coca, the daily manager of a bar at the CastaƱeda Hotel in Las Vegas, NM, said he had three vehicles packed with belongings in case he and his family were to leave.

As the fire grew Friday, along with the number of people leaving their homes, his bar began offering free buffet dinners to firefighters and evacuees. Many people left home with the clothes they were wearing and not much else, he added.

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