In Las Vegas, New Mexico, firefighters have managed to slow the advance of the largest wildfire in the U.S. as winds died down Wednesday. President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration that will bring new financial resources into remote stretches that were left devastated by fires since early April.
According to AP News, “U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez announced the presidential disaster declaration during an evening briefing by the U.S. Forest Service about efforts to contain the sprawling wildfire in northeastern New Mexico, which has fanned out across 250 square miles (647 square kilometers) of high alpine forest and grasslands at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains.”
The congresswoman said, “It will help us do that rebuilding and it will help us with the expenses and the hardship that people are facing right now. We’re glad it happened this quickly.”
Fire bosses are doing everything in their power to keep the fire from advancing any closer to Las Vegas, including using airplanes and helicopters equipped with slurries of red fire retardant. They have also cleared away timber along crucial fronts so that it will be harder for flames to penetrate areas near this small New Mexico city as well other villages scattered across its shifting frontages.
The fires in outlying areas and the valleys of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains have caused an estimated 15,500 homes to be affected by mandatory evacuations. The count of destroyed houses stands at 170 with many more having significant damage including loss of livestock and other property.
This declaration is a relief for many who have been affected by these disasters. The president’s disaster declaration releases emergency funds for recovery efforts in three counties where fires still rage, as well portions of southern New Mexico where wind-driven blazes killed two people and destroyed over 200 homes in mid-April.