Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire now largest wildfire in state history - Albuquerque Journal

Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire now largest wildfire in state history

The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire burning northeast of Pecos on Friday. The blaze is now the largest wildfire in state history. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire said Monday morning that the blaze has grown to more than 298,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.

It took just 40 days for the wildfire to achieve that dubious distinction, chasing thousands of people from their homes and destroying more than 580 structures and at least 170 homes.

Firefighters have had recent success in limiting its explosive growth, but it continues to rage and threaten more communities with additional evacuations issued on Sunday in San Miguel and Taos counties.

Ken Watkins, an operations section chief for the fire’s south zone, said that the blaze has “consistently exceeded expectations.”

Several Pecos River Valley communities moved into “ready” evacuation status on Monday morning, as officials warned of thunderstorms developing in the region.  

“It makes it difficult for us to engage our folks and to have them out there in those places when those (storms) are building,” Watkins said. “As they start to push off to the east, they’ll send downflow winds that are very erratic. They’re predicting they could be 60 to 70 mph …Today’s going to be a very measured approach to committing our firefighters in these areas.” 

Up until Monday, the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire was the largest New Mexico wildfire. It started in the Gila National Forest on May 16, 2012 and burned 297,845 acres, destroyed 12 homes and injured eight people, none fatally, before burning out in July 2012.

As of Monday morning, the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire had burned 298,060 acres, growing by 9,118 from the previous day. It was 27% contained, down from 36% on Sunday.

At more than 465 square miles, it’s the largest wildfire currently burning in the country. Management of the fire has been turned over to three separate teams.

“Forty plus days, almost 300,000 acres. I just want you all to know that we understand the impact to all the communities surrounding the perimeter to this fire,” incident commander Jason Clawson said during a Sunday night briefing. “… We have almost 2,000 personnel from all across the country supporting this incident working 24 hours a day, and just know that we all share that impact with all of you, and our goal and success for us in the end is that all of you are back in your homes and that this fire is successfully put out. Very challenging terrain, very challenging and extreme weather and fuels behavior and fire behavior.”

The Hermits Peak Fire started on April 6 as a prescribed burn that got out of control. The cause of the Calf Canyon Fire is still under investigation.

The two fires merged in late April. It has already destroyed at least 170 homes and has burned part of the city of Las Vegas’ watershed.

At one point, an estimated 15,500 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders due to the fire.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire now largest wildfire in state history


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Coffee shop holds fundraiser for first responders
ABQnews Seeker
All Ziggi's locations will donate $1 ... All Ziggi's locations will donate $1 for every drink sold, both in-store and via their mobile app
2
Police: Man drove over, killed brother
ABQnews Seeker
Witness told police body was dragged ... Witness told police body was dragged on street
3
Rael picked as chief administrative officer
ABQnews Seeker
Nomination heads to City Council Nomination heads to City Council
4
'Not all doom and gloom'
ABQnews Seeker
State making progress on 50-year water ... State making progress on 50-year water plan
5
Young children now eligible for COVID vaccines in NM
ABQnews Seeker
Youngsters in New Mexico are now ... Youngsters in New Mexico are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and doses for that age group have started to arrive, the state Department of ...
6
Former salon owner pleads guilty to five felonies
ABQnews Seeker
'Vampire facials' performed on clients who ... 'Vampire facials' performed on clients who contracted HIV
7
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
Parishes will chip in to cover ... Parishes will chip in to cover the payments on the debt
8
Congress sends landmark gun violence compromise to Biden
ABQnews Seeker
Heinrich, one of the senators who ... Heinrich, one of the senators who helped negotiate the legislation, called it "concrete action" that will make the situation better
9
NM Democrats weigh law protecting abortion rights
2022 election
'Our hearts, our clinics and our ... 'Our hearts, our clinics and our communities will remain open to those coming here for the care they want and need,' says one state ...