North American Firefighters prepare for worsening fire forecast


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Nearly 3,000 firefighters in North America are preparing for a worsening fire forecast in the days ahead as the country’s largest wildfire reached a temporary standstill in northern Mexico on Tuesday night due to light rain and snow in the mountains

The ongoing wildfire burning for in New Mexico has become the largest in the Southwestern state’s recorded history and it forced the evacuation of a small ski resort and villages in drought-hit mountains east of Santa Fe.

Fire officials in New Mexico said they planned to continue to clear flammable vegetation and deploy aircraft to douse smoldering forests before windier, hotter, drier conditions return this weekend.

Forest Service fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner predicted that by Friday: “Fire weather starts to enter the critical stage where we’ll probably see more growth and fire moving.”

Controlled burns put on hold

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on Friday called a temporary nationwide halt to controlled burns meant to reduce fire risk after the agency accidentally started part of New Mexico’s largest ever wildfire, having burned over 300,000 acres (123,000 hectares), destroyed up to 1,500 properties and displaced tens of thousands of people.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said fire danger levels were too high to use prescribed fire and ordered a 90-day review of policies before operations planned for this fall.

“Lessons learned and any resulting program improvements will be in place prior to resuming prescribed burning,” Moore said in a statement.

So far this year, wildland fires have burned across roughly 2,650 square miles (6,860 square kilometers) of the U – roughly twice the average burn for this time of year, according to a national center for coordinating wildfire suppression.

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