'Massive fire' in New Mexico could double in size

'Massive fire' in New Mexico could double in size

 On Saturday, a fire department official said a drought-triggered wildfire in northern New Mexico has exploded into a "massive fire" of 100,000 acres or 157 square miles, and its size may still more than double.

Fueled by gale-force spring winds in thirsty mountain forests, Calf Canyon Fire is the largest and most destructive in the United States.

About 30 miles (48 km) east of Santa Fe, the blaze destroyed hundreds of properties, led to thousands of evacuations, and set ablaze on Saturday a few miles from Las Vegas, New Mexico, a city of 14,000.

"It's already 100,000 acres. It could easily double in size and maybe even more," accident commander Karl Schop told a news briefing.

The fire increased by about 50 percent in 24 hours, as a giant column of flame collapsed Friday night, raining embers, and new fires broke out. Las Vegas residents woke up to pieces of charred wood the size of a quarter of an American coin flooding the city.

Officials fear another "pillar collapse" at any time.

"It's a big fire, and it's all around us," San Miguel County Superintendent Joy Ansley said by phone, adding that authorities were making plans in case Las Vegas was asked to evacuate.

Firefighters believe the western United States faces a bleak fire year, with USDA data showing that 80% of the region is experiencing severe drought.

Under a two °C global temperature scenario, scientists expect wildfires in the western United States to burn twice as much as they do by mid-century.

More than a third of the 2,800 firefighters now deployed to the United States have been on the Canyon Valley Fire, shoveling fires to defend Las Vegas and battling "spot fires" creeping toward villages in Mora Valley.

So far this year, US wildfires have burned more than twice the area than in the same period in 2021 and about 70% more than the 10-year average, according to the Interagency National Fire Center.

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