The U.S. Forest Services (USFS) said Friday it had started two fires that devastated thousands of acres of land and hundreds of homes in New Mexico.
The agency said it started the April 6 Hermits Peak Fire and the April 19 Calf Canyon Fire, reported Reuters. The two fires combined into the largest-ever wildfire in New Mexico history.
“The Hermits Peak Fire began April 6 as a result of the Las Dispensas prescribed fire on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest. Although forecasted weather conditions were within parameters for the prescribed fire, unexpected erratic winds in the late afternoon caused multiple spot fires that spread outside the project boundary,” the U.S. Forest Service summary of the Hermits Peak Fire stated.
Forest Service says it started all of New Mexico’s largest wildfire https://t.co/M518Wmbydb
— Nichola Groom (@nicholagroom) May 27, 2022
The massive wildfire burned over 312,320 acres of New Mexico landscape, including mountains, forests and valleys, reported Reuters. (RELATED: Gov. Doug Ducey Declares State Of Emergency With 20,000-Acre Wildfire Blazing In Arizona)
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the U.S. government to take full responsibility for the destruction of property brought by the wildfires.
“The pain and suffering of New Mexicans caused by the actions of the U.S. Forest Service – an agency that is intended to be a steward of our lands – is unfathomable,” Lujan Grisham said in her statement. “This is a first step toward the federal government taking full responsibility for the largest wildfire in state history, which has destroyed hundreds of homes, displaced tens of thousands of New Mexicans, and cost the state and local governments millions of dollars.”
The price to fight the wildfires is $132 million, with those costs increasing by around $5 million every day, Lujan Grisham’s statement reported. The USFS will pay for 100% of the fire suppression costs, according to her statement.
Lujan Grisham said the state is still asking President Joe Biden to instruct the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to pay for “a broad range of fire-related recovery efforts” not covered by the USFS, including debris removal.
There is a 90-day pause on prescribed fire operations on National Forest System lands due to an “extreme wildfire risk conditions in the field,” the USFS announced in a May 20 statement.