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Wildfires prompt evacuations in U.S. state of New Mexico


08:21, June 03, 2013

HOUSTON, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Firefighters in the U.S. state of New Mexico on Saturday continued to fight two growing wildfires that have consumed thousands of acres of land and forced evacuations of dozens of homes, officials said.

Over 150 homes have been evacuated and about 5,300 acres of forests were destroyed since Thursday after a downed power line caused an uncontrollable wildfire in New Mexico's rugged Pecos wilderness, according to U.S. media reports.

The fire, dubbed as the "Tres Lagunas fire," was New Mexico's first major blaze of the season. It was zero percent contained by midday on Saturday, officials said.

About 300 emergency personnel were on the scene battling the blaze, with more expected to arrive as the fire grew, said U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Iris Estes.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez on Friday declared a state of emergency in San Miguel County.

"Fire crews continue to make headway on the Tres Lagunas fire, but the next several days will require a great deal of coordination to keep New Mexicans safe," Martinez said.

Farther east in the city of Santa Fe, a second fire began on Friday in the Santa Fe National Forest, and had encroached on the Valles Caldera National Preserve, said Dan Ware with New Mexico's State Forestry Agency.

The new wildfire has burned over 635 acres of land and was also zero percent contained, local media reported.

The fire in Santa Fe National Forest was burning just 25 miles from the city of Santa Fe, prompting the Red Cross to set up an emergency shelter at a nearby high school.

The state Department of Health had warned residents in the Pecos, Santa Fe and Espanola areas to prepare for smoke and avoid prolonged or physical activity outdoors.

Almost 98 percent of New Mexico is currently experiencing the most historic drought since 1950s, with extreme temperatures, dry conditions and high winds, according to reports.

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