LAS VEGAS, N.M. — City officials Sunday prepared for the possibility of mass evacuations of Las Vegas residents Monday as relentless winds pushed the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire closer to the city and put other communities in a growing hunk of Northern New Mexico on edge.
“This is not a small fire,” Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo said at an emergency City Council meeting Sunday. “This is the largest disaster in New Mexico history — one of the largest in U.S. history.”
The fire, which had grown to about 104,000 acres by Sunday morning, currently is not the biggest in state history, and to date, has not resulted in any reported fatalities. But its proximity to Las Vegas, and farther to the north, Mora, places it in the league with the Whitewater-Baldy, Las Conchas and Cerro Grande fires — 21st century monster blazes that changed landscapes and, in the case of Cerro Grande, communities for decades.
Most of the city’s motels and hotels are fully booked, and restaurants are slammed as firefighters continue to fight the more than 97,000-acre fire in San Miguel and Mora counties, where hundreds have evacuated.
The risks were rapidly changing throughout the day as the fire crept farther south toward Las Vegas, N.M., and more days of high winds were in the forecast.