ANGEL FIRE, N.M. (KRQE) – More people are being forced from their homes tonight as the Calf Canyon Hermit’s Peak Fire continues to move north. High winds today didn’t help as the flames got closer and closer to communities like Taos and Angel Fire. While the community of Black Lake has been put on “go” status, officials in nearby Angel Fire say they’re prepared for the long fight ahead.

Kevin Henson is the Fire Chief for the village of Angel Fire. “Today schools were shut down, everybody’s just anticipating what’s happening. There’s ash falling in town. There’s not hot embers, just ash but that’s really waking people up. 

For weeks crews with the Angel Fire Fire Department have been prepping to fight the Calf Canyon Hermit’s Peak Fires. “We’re ready for what we can do. We also know there are a lot of things we can’t do. We’re not going to fight a wind-driven fire. We’re not going to fight a fire that’s crowning in the trees. Those are not safe fires to fight,” Chief Henson said. 

Story continues below

If the fires reach Angel Fire it would have a huge impact on the popular resort town. but for now the ski area is helping with efforts to slow the spread of the fires. Chief Henson explains, “They’ve redirected their snow-making equipment to be able to charge the mountain  with water should that be necessary that prep work has already happened.”

Fire Chief Kevin Henson also urges people to evacuate when officials say it’s time to go. “Choosing to not evacuate that not only puts yourself at risk but it puts the firefighters and the police officers at risk because we’re going to keep checking on those people.”

Story continues below

One evacuee from Encinal Canyon has been staying in Taos for weeks. Jim Werdel shares, “I made that decision at the very start. The fire was down in Hermit’s Peak and I didn’t want to go down to Vegas because that’s driving into the mouth of the dragon.”

He’s staying in a hotel but shares why he frequently stops by the shelter. “For food. For food and for company. 90 percent of why I come here is just to talk with the people.”

Fire crews understand that they’re in this fight for the long haul. “We’re going to be in this for a significant amount of time and that may be until the monsoons come or until we get to places that are really defensible.”

Tonight, Angel Fire Resort is housing firefighters coming in to help with these wildfires. While Angel Fire is still in the “set” status, Black Lake, which is about 6 miles south of Angel Fire, is in the “go” stage. There are two official red cross shelters in Taos County that are taking in Mora County evacuees. One at the Juan I. Gonzalez Center and the other at the high school in Penasco.