NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Hermits Peak & Calf Canyon Fire is now the most destructive in New Mexico history. With 333 homes burned, it has also destroyed 268 other buildings. That includes the small community in Mora County.
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In Canoncito, about 25 miles north of Las Vegas, the smell and sight of smoke fill the air as the fire burns too close to home. Ernest Quintana lives there and says he spent the winter trying to prepare for a fire like this. “I just had a funny feeling about the weather, the way it was coming and so much fuel so I got rid of acres and acres of fuel around my house,” Quintana said.
He says it paid off, but his neighbors aren’t so lucky. The next-door neighbor’s house is also gone and just a few minute’s drive away, another neighbor lost their shed, barn, and home.
According to FEMA, the fire is threatening more than 15,000 homes on land that is in some of these families for generations. “It hurts a lot to see people suffering. and it was so unexpected that some people had been moved from place to place,” Quintana said.
Quintana is hopeful the worst is behind them. “The very burnt areas that my neighbors have, I’m thinking about ways to get it back.”
More than 25,000 people remain evacuated. For people who need help, the deadline to apply for critical need assistance through FEMA is extended until June 2. That is a one-time $500 payment for immediate needs like food, water, and diapers.