Wildfires burn more than 100,000 acres in three states

Forest fires that continue to blaze over Arizona, Nebraska and New Mexico have been blamed for at least one death, the burning of more than 103,000 acres and the evacuation of about 4,000 homes, officials said.

The fires are part of what has been an early and active season across the country, as fires have also plagued California and Colorado.

Corey Mead, a National Weather Service weather forecaster, said Nebraska had seen “above normal” activity during its current fire season, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the fires had come well before the start of The state’s natural fire. season. “It’s going to be a tough summer,” she said.

Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in the United States, and wildfire seasons are getting longer. Research has suggested that heat and drought associated with global warming are significant causes of the increase in larger and more powerful fires.

In New Mexico, Ms. Grisham at a news conference Saturday that the biggest threat in her state was the Calf Canyon fire east of Santa Fe, which put more than 900 homes at risk.

The Calf Canyon fire combined with the Hermits Peak fire, about 12 miles northwest of Las Vegas, NM, at the base of Hermits Peak in Peco’s Wilderness. The Hermits Peak fire started on April 6 after “unexpected irregular winds” from a prescribed fire in the area caused the fire to grow, officials reported.

Ms. Grisham said more than 200 structures had been burned and that 1,000 firefighters had been dispatched. By Sunday, the Calf Canyon fire had burned more than 54,000 acres and was 12 percent contained.

More than 3,400 homes in New Mexico were under mandatory evacuation and more than 3,000 homes were under voluntary evacuation due to wildfires. Ms. Grisham said residents who were not under any evacuation orders should be prepared to leave because of the nature of the rapidly spreading fires.

Coconino County in northern Arizona was in a state of emergency as firefighters battled to contain a wildfire, about 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff. More than 260 firefighters and workers had been dispatched to the fire, which forced more than 750 households in the area to evacuate, according to the governor’s office.

The fire in Coconino County, which began April 17, was only 3 percent under control as of Sunday and had already burned more than 21,000 acres. About 25 structures have been lost to the fire, known as the tunnel fire, the governor’s office said.

One of the victims of the tunnel fire has been the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, which has been “burned in its entirety,” the park said on Facebook.

The monument, which covers 3,040 acres and is surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, is centered around a slag cone, which is the youngest volcano in the largest volcanic field in the contiguous United States. The park’s visitor center was unharmed, but nearby fires continued to burn, the park said.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s office said evacuation orders for some neighborhoods along Highway 89 would be lifted on Sunday as the threat of the fire subsided in some areas.

In Nebraska, one person was killed and three firefighters were injured when forest fires that started Friday, driven by strong winds and dry grass, burned throughout the western and central region of the state, authorities said.

A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said Sunday that there were reports of further damage in other fires, but that she did not immediately have specific details.

The State National Guard deployed at least three helicopters and several trucks to help with the fires, and the state’s Wildland Incident Response and Assistance Team sent specialists to several of them, the emergency department said Saturday.

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