New Mexico villages ‘big gun fight’ to protect city from fire

TAOS, NM, May 1 (Reuters) – Thousands of people were evacuated from villages in northern New Mexico on Sunday as strong winds and drought pushed the largest wildfire in the United States into the arid mountain valley.

The wind, which blew at 40 mph (64 km / h), ignited a mile before the new blaze as bulldozers carved fire breaks to protect the villages of Ledoux, Mora and Cleveland, 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Santa Fe.

They are agrarian communities and an old western city on the path to the Golf Canyon fire, which scientists say was the most devastating of a dozen southwest flames that became more widespread earlier this year due to climate change.

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“Where we have to run, where we go, this is where our livelihood is,” said Darlene Galegos, a farmer and co-owner of Mora’s Country Market, who told him to close the shop and leave the village. 1,000 settled during the Spanish colonial period.

Twenty miles south of the other end of the 104,000-acre (42,100-hectare) megafire, some residents of Las Vegas, New Mexico, were told to get ready to be evacuated as the wind blew within 5 miles of homes near Interstate 25.

Sean Carroll, a New Mexico game and fisheries official, told a conference that those communities west of the city could be evicted “in the future.”

As many as 14,000 staff at the historic University City north and west of the city were bulldozed to protect farms, rural homes and the United World College.

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Firefighters were hampered by strong, erratic winds that changed direction until Thursday.

“It simply came to our notice then. “There’s still a big gunfight going on there,” he said of the crew who worked all night near Mora.

Burning since April 6, the fire has destroyed hundreds of properties and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but has not yet claimed a single life.

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Report by Andrew Howe in Davos, New Mexico; Editing by Dunham, Marguerite Choi and Jacqueline Wong

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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