NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – While the largest wildfire in state history burns up north the second largest is burning down south. The Black Fire started about a month ago northwest of Truth or Consequences, and it’s having a devastating impact on ranching and farming communities. A state senator is calling on the governor for help.
The more than 300,000-acre Black Fire is burning mostly on national forest lands, so it hasn’t threatened many homes. Five structures have been destroyed. But it has displaced a large number of cattle operations putting a financial burden on ranchers.
Travis Day is the Executive Director of the NM Chile Association. He explains, “We have a lot of ranchers you know who are having to move cattle and scramble you know to get them out. Then the issue came down to, well we got them out, they’re protected from the fire, now what do we feed them.”
On Wednesday, Senator Crystal Diamond wrote to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham – urging her to contact President Biden for help. “We are pleading that they will please designate this area as a disaster relief that will allow FEMA to step in,” said Senator Diamond.
Now there are more worries about flooding as we enter monsoon season this week. Senator Diamond says getting federal funds now will help prepare for the inevitable. “Long after this fire is out, we can expect absolute flooding for not just our homesteads and our communities along the lines, but that water will reach much of our farming land for the southern New Mexico farmers, which is also a great concern.”
In Sierra County, six major drainages and watersheds that flow into the Rio Grande are being impacted by the Black Fire which could create issues for the state’s most popular crop. “As that ash moves from the top all the way down, it’ll end up in our irrigation systems, and ultimately what that leads to is lower quality water getting to our Chile plants.”
Travis Day also serves as a Sierra County Commissioner. He says there’s a potential to lose homes and farmland along the drainages. “We need federal money, we need state money to come down to address, you know, the flooding issues.”
The Black Fire has now burned more than 320,000 acres with 48% containment.