Massive wildfires in New Mexico endanger several ski resorts

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It’s May and the United States is already dealing with an astronomical wildfire. On Monday, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires became the largest wildfire in New Mexico history. On Wednesday, the wildfire officially exceeded 300,000 acres. To date, the wildfire has burned 303,341 acres and is only 34% contained, with nearly 2,200 firefighters working to suppress it. By comparison, it has burned more acres than the Caldor fire that damaged Sierra-At-Tahoe last August, which burned 221,835 acres. The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires come nowhere near the largest wildfire in the United States last year, which was the 963,309-acre Dixie Fire. Here are some answers to some of the various questions regarding this growing wildfire. How did the fire start? They are still investigating what started the Calf Canyon portion of the fire, but an explanation has been given as to what started the Hermits Peak fire. According to NPR, a prescribed/intentional burn by the US Forest Service has caused various spot fires. It spun out of control due to the high winds that made the wildfire so dangerous. It was a controversial decision on the part of the U.S. Forest Service, as the prescribed burn did not take into account the dry winter the state faced or the high winds predicted.

Which cities and national forests have been affected so far? Some of the towns affected by the fire include Trout Springs, Ledoux, Mora, Cleveland, Rociada and many more. Many towns have been forced to evacuate, while many other towns must be prepared to abandon their homes and businesses. The fire is estimated to have destroyed at least a thousand structures. Click here to learn more about cities under evacuation orders. The Santa Fe, Cibola and Carson National Forests are closed effective today.

What is the upcoming weather forecast? It’s not really promising. Dry weather continues for the rest of the week, with moderate winds also in the forecast. Next week there is a 30% chance of rain at Angel Fire next Tuesday, but it will only be scattered showers.

Which ski resorts are at risk? The three ski resorts to watch out for are Sipapu, Taos Ski Valley and Angel Fire Resort. On Monday, Sipapu entered Go mode, which meant residents had to evacuate immediately. According to forecasts, there are serious fears that damage will be caused to Sipapu. Artificial snowmaking equipment is currently used to protect the terrain and structures, and it operates the lifts without the chairs on them. According to KRQE, this is so that the hauling cable does not burn. The chairs were placed in a wet area with a firewall protecting them, as you can see below. While Taos and Angel Fire are still a long way from the Wildfire, it’s possible he could reach these ski resorts. Angel Fire has announced that it will delay the opening of its summer operations by delaying by a week. They hope to open on May 27, but that could change depending on circumstances. Today Taos announced that the ski resort is now closed to hiking, camping, biking and fishing as it is on National Forest Land. They have yet to set an opening date for their summer activities due to the wildfire. They still plan to open The Blake, The Bavarian, 192 and Rhoda’s within a week from today.

Videos of the forest fire: These videos from PBS and NBC News show what it looks like on the ground, and it’s shocking.

Image/video credits: Sipapu, New Mexico Fire Info, Angel Fire Resort, Taos Ski Valley, PBS, NBC News

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