Forecasters Warn of Unprecedented Wind Events that Likely to Fan Wildfire in Mexico
Firefighters are bracing for an"unprecedented strong wind event", which has already wreaked havoc and forced thousands to leave. Forecasters say winds of up to 60 mph might hit the area this weekend, fueling the spread of the fires that have charred over 262 square miles in recent weeks.
Since the fire started, at least 165 homes have burned down, and many people have been evacuated.
It is believed that actions taken to combat the fire, such as clearing vegetation and digging firebreaks, will prevent it from reaching the city of Las Vegas, which is separate from its larger and more well-known Nevada counterpart.
Elmo Baca, chairman of the Las Vegas Community Foundation, said:
"There's uncertainty, and there's fear about how the winds will affect the fire from day to day. Once the people are evacuated out of an area, they can't go back, so they're just stuck worrying."
The US Forest Service's preventive work to eliminate flammable vegetation in early April is thought to have contributed to the initiation of the fire.
It combined with another wildfire that had spread out of control for unclear reasons. Long-term drought and rising temperatures due to climate change have exacerbated wildfire risk.
Forest fires have also ravaged southern New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Firefighters battling the current blaze in northeastern New Mexico have faced extreme winds before, but incident commander Dave Bales warned that the present weather might persist for five days or more. He also cautioned that flames could travel up to a mile.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, the country's nuclear weapons development site, was within five miles of another big wildfire raging in New Mexico. To minimise the fire's severity, crews burned grass ahead of it.
Water tankers, a helicopter, and heavy equipment are stationed around the lab, and firefighters will patrol the perimeter if the flames approach.
Environmentalists and nuclear watchdog groups have expressed alarm about nuclear waste containers at the site.
According to lab authorities, radiological and other potentially dangerous items are kept in containers designed and tested to resist harsh circumstances, including heat from the fire.
Source: Sky News