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Rain could potentially ease or worsen New Mexico wildfire


In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, NM, on June 17, 2024.
In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, NM, on June 17, 2024.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday issued a disaster declaration for the state of New Mexico, which is battling a pair of growing wildfires.

The South Fork Fire and the Salt Fire in Ruidoso have killed two people, destroyed about 500 homes and forced thousands to flee. The two fires have burned an estimated 9,308 hectares and as of Thursday, were 0% contained, officials said.

In seeking the aid, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, "New Mexico has faced disaster before, but the scale of this emergency requires immediate federal intervention."

The declaration will make funds available to help with recovery efforts, including temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property and other emergency work in Lincoln County and on lands belonging to the Mescalero Apache Tribe, The Associated Press reported.

The fast-moving fire swept into the mountain town of Ruidoso, about 260 kilometers south of Albuquerque, on Monday. The fire grew overnight, leading to more evacuations on Tuesday.

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 8,660 square kilometers this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the AP reported.

As of Thursday, nearly 20 wildfires were burning in California, Arizona, Colorado, Washington state and elsewhere are considered large and uncontained, according to AP.

The cause of the New Mexico fires is under investigation.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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