ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico is the latest to join other forests in New Mexico and neighboring Arizona that are all at a high, very high or extreme fire danger rating.
Lincoln officials announced the move to the higher rating Monday, as weather forecasters said hotter, dry weather was on tap for the region this week.
Forest officials say despite it being late October, multiple fires larger than 1.5 square miles (4 square kilometers) have cropped up in the past week, including the Luna Fire in northern New Mexico and the Horse Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.
“We are seeing similar trends to what we saw in 2011 when we had several fires over the winter,” Lincoln National Forest Fire Staff Officer David Bales said in a statement. “To be moving into a very high fire danger rating so late in the year is atypical but based on the low fuel moisture levels and activity in the region, it’s warranted.”
While there are no fire restrictions on the Lincoln forest, officials are asking the public to be careful and to not burn on red flag days.
Data from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s statistics service shows there were no reports of precipitation during the past week in New Mexico, and average high temperatures in the state remained 6 to 12 degrees above average for this time of year.