April 22 (UPI) — Wildfires are continuing to spread in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, bringing evacuation orders or alerts in all three states, local officials said Friday.
New Mexico’s Cooks Peak Fire has burned more than 21,000 acres near the border of Mora and Colfax counties.
Firefighters have been unable to contain the blaze amid drought conditions and high winds, as well as an abundance of dry brush and grass, which serves as fuel for the rapidly spreading fire.
The blaze broke out on Sunday, and the eastern side of the fire remained the most threatened as of Friday afternoon, moving increasingly closer to the Colfax County line.
The communities of Rayado, Sweetwater and Sunnyside are under mandatory evacuation orders, while people living in Cimarron, Philmont Scout Ranch, and Miami have been told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice by the Mora and Colfax County Sheriff’s offices.
Several other communities are under “ready” status for evacuation orders.
To the north, fires are burning in Colorado, where evacuation orders have been issued for areas north of Colorado Springs.
By Friday afternoon, the Colorado Springs Fire Department had extinguished the bulk of the Farm Fire without the loss of any structures. However, existing evacuation orders covering an entire residential subdivision, remained in place as of 2 p.m. MDT.
A number of areas across the state are at risk of extreme fire danger Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Friday during a news conference.
“We know that this issue is about more than one fire,” Polis said, bringing up the link between climate change and the growing severity of wildfires. “It’s really about tackling the increased fire threat.”