Wildfires Threaten New Mexico Resorts, Burn California Mansions
TIERRA MONTE, New Mexico — Wildfires headed toward mountain resorts in northern New Mexico on Thursday and engulfed an enclave of multimillion-dollar mansions in Southern California.
Residents of about 900 homes were being evacuated on the California coast and a firefighter was injured when a wildfire scorched about 200 acres (81 hectares) in Laguna Niguel on Wednesday, county officials said. ‘Orange.
In New Mexico, meanwhile, more than 300 homes and other buildings have been destroyed in wildfires since early last month. As westerly winds picked up on Thursday, firefighters torched firebreaks and set up sprinkler systems to save ranches and homes about 15 miles south of Angel Fire, a ski resort .
Crews bulldozed containment lines to prevent the blaze from entering Black Lake, Angel Fire and even the Taos area, known for its UNESCO-listed Native American community.
“We’re in red flag conditions today, such high winds,” Todd Abel, an interagency firefighting team leader, said during a briefing.
To the south, residents have returned to the rubble of homes built on land that had belonged to their families since before the area became part of the United States in the mid-19th century.
All that was left of Michael Salazar’s modular home in Tierra Monte was twisted metal. Melon shoots had appeared in his greenhouse, which survived.
“It’s not rebuildable at least in my lifetime, but future generations can work with what we have,” said Salazar, 55, who said he had no insurance and blamed the government federal for starting the fire that destroyed his home.
The Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire started in part with a U.S. Forest Service directed burn that got out of control on April 6. The fire then merged with another fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.
The wildfire, on track to become the largest in New Mexico’s history, has burned more than 259,810 acres (105,141 hectares), about two-thirds the size of Greater London. The fire is 29% contained.
US President Joe Biden has ordered federal aid for fire recovery efforts.
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