A wildfire caused by a downed power line in New Mexico’s rugged Pecos wilderness has forced the evacuation of 150 homes and consumed 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) of forest in the grip of a historic drought, officials said on Saturday.
The Tres Lagunas fire, New Mexico’s first major blaze of the dry season, started on Thursday and was zero percent contained by midday on Saturday.
Hot temperatures, extreme dry conditions and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) whipped the flames through steep mountainous terrain, said U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Iris Estes.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 98 percent of New Mexico had severe drought conditions, with 44 percent in exceptional drought, the highest rating available.
“This is a historic drought. We haven’t seen a drought like this since the 1950s,” said Dan Ware with New Mexico’s State Forestry agency.