Forest fires in the southwest fanned by high winds | News, Sports, Jobs

Thousands of firefighters worked to slow the progress of the destructive wildfires in the Southwest as residents braced for dangerously dry, hot and windy conditions in northern New Mexico and adjacent areas that made the hard-to-contain fires.

At least 166 homes have been destroyed in a rural county in northeastern New Mexico since the largest fire in the United States began moving through small towns east and northeast of Santa Fe on 22 April, the San Miguel County Sheriff said.

Authorities on Friday morning urged people to immediately leave a chain of sparsely populated canyons and forests on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico, where nearly 1,000 firefighters and rescuers were deployed.

The flames were pushed forward by steady winds that were expected to persist through Friday evening. A US Forest Service weather update described gusts of up to 66 mph.

During a Friday afternoon briefing for the Santa Fe National Forest, operations chief Jayson Coil said intelligence gathered from an aircraft, before the winds picked up, reinforced their concerns.

“The fire is moving faster than we originally expected in these conditions and we still haven’t reached the peak of the wind,” Coil said.

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