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Dangerous New Mexico wildfire menaces historic city

 Hundreds of households in the historic New Mexico city of Las Vegas were told to evacuate on Monday as fierce winds and drought pushed the ...



 Hundreds of households in the historic New Mexico city of Las Vegas were told to evacuate on Monday as fierce winds and drought pushed the largest active wildfire in the United States closer to town.

The blaze has scorched more than 121,000 acres (49,000 hectares), or more than half the area of New York City, tearing through centuries-old settlements and vacation homes in forested mountains 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Santa Fe.

The fire is the most destructive of a dozen blazes in the Southwest that scientists say are more widespread and arriving earlier this year due to climate change.

In northwest Las Vegas, families packed trucks with boxes of photos and heirlooms and loaded livestock onto trailers, heeding police warnings for residents to get out of the area.

David Lopez, 31, chose to stay and defend his family's two trailer homes, wetting down the earth with a hose and raking away dead grass to create a fire break.



"This is all I have - I worked really hard for it," said the 31-year-old mechanic, who said he planned to flee once flames got within a quarter of a mile of him.

A satellite image shows a color infrared view of fire lines during Hermits Peak wildfire, east of Santa Fe, New Mexico

A satellite image shows a color infrared view of fire lines during Hermits Peak wildfire, east of Santa Fe, New Mexico

By late afternoon winds dropped, slowing the fire and preventing further evacuations in the city of 14,000.

"We didn't have that big hard push into Las Vegas proper," Incident Commander Dave Bales told a briefing.

with information from reuters.com

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