LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Fire officials are calling it an unprecedented wind event, along with nearly a month of red flag delays, the fight to contain the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires continues. Despite it being a windy day, fire officials say this is definitely an improvement on the past five days where air crafts had to stand down and crews actually saw the fire grow.
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After around 26 days of red flag warnings and high-level winds, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires expanded into areas that fire crews had previously fought to contain. “Our containment did drop to 39 from 43 percent yesterday. And that is due to some of the growth for sure on the north and south edge. As the fire continues to grow, our containment will continue to grow or decline based on how much the fires growing,” said Incident Commander Dave Bales.
Fire officials say the high winds caused a phenomenon called spotting, which is when trees catch fire and embers are blown long distances in this case. “It spotted over our containment lines up north, the 518 road, we were putting a lot of efforts in there,” said Fire Information Officer Ryan Berlin.
The fire efforts are currently concentrated on the north and south edges of the fires. For the first time in days, crews were able to work on the fire from the air. They are hopeful this latest drive, including almost 1,800 firefighters, will get the fires better contained.
The fires have now burned more than 203,000 acres. It is still at 39% contained. Fire crews said Tuesday afternoon the troubling area was west near Geronimo, but crews were on the ground and in the air with heavy equipment, working to save structures in the area.