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In a post, the agency shared a natural-color photo taken on May 3 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
The image shows smoke from the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak complex and Cerrado Pelo Fire, located northwest of the small city of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Los Alamos, respectively.
A NASA satellite captured an image of wildfires burning in New Mexico, May 3, 2022. (NASA)
The fires have been driven by windy and dry conditions, scorching grass, brush and tinder.
They’ve destroyed hundreds of structures and prompted the evacuation of thousands of people.
The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak complex is one of the largest fires in state history.
The U.S. Forest Service said in an update on Friday that it stretched 168,009 and remained 20% contained.
Nearly 1,400 personnel on the ground and in the air are working to fight the fire, and the agency said a “lot of progress” was made on Thursday due to “moderated” winds.
However, that was expected to change over the weekend.
“The upcoming wind event is predicted to be historic due to the duration and the area it will impact,” it warned. “It is critical that people continue to watch for changes in evacuation status and pay attention to emergency notifications.”
Crews working on the Cerro Pelado Fire also made progress due to the favorable weather conditions, with more than 750 total personnel on scene.
The fire, which also led to evacuations, has spread over 32,121 acres and is 13% contained.
NASA noted that the Cooks Peak Fire was just north of Las Vegas. Infrared flight showed it covered 59,359 acres and it was 97% contained on Thursday.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, New Mexico has had more than 200 fires thus far this year.
Firefighters hold the line along NM Highway 283 Wednesday, May 4, 2022 (Credit: U.S. Forest Service)
The U.S. Drought Monitor showed, on a map released Thursday, that 98.94% of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought.
More than 79% are facing extreme to exceptional dryness.
Since Jan. 1, 2022. 22,530 wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres nationally.
Wildfires have become a year-round threat in the drought-stricken West.
Scientists and fire experts say they are moving faster and burning hotter than ever due to climate change,
The Associated Press contributed to this report.