SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A trio of drought-fueled wildfires raged in New Mexico and California on Sunday, with the biggest blaze forcing the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from their homes north of Los Angeles.
The Powerhouse wildfire in California’s Lake Hughes area, about 65 miles outside Los Angeles, destroyed six houses and was threatening more than 1,000 others, police and fire and rescue officials said.
The fire had charred about 25,000 acres by late Sunday and, though it was about 20 percent contained, the officials said it was not expected to be brought fully under control for about a week.
Deputy Luan Dang of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Department told Reuters more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from communities threatened by the blaze.
High temperatures and dramatic wind shifts have contributed to the fire, said Ronald Ashdale, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. He said as many as 975 firefighters and other personnel had been struggling to contain the blaze in an area as dry as a tinder-box.
In New Mexico, two other fires also raged out of control on Sunday, one of them consuming 7,476 acres of Ponderosa pine forest in an area known as the Pecos Wilderness, authorities said.
It too was fed by severe drought conditions blanketing 98 percent of the state, weather officials said.
“This is a historic drought. We haven’t seen a drought like this since the 1950s,” said Dan Ware of New Mexico’s State Forestry agency.
Smoke advisories were sent to residents throughout the state after soot and a dense haze filled the air over Santa Fe and neighboring areas.
The other New Mexico fire had consumed 1,745 acres of the Valles Caldera National Preserve by late Sunday, triggering the evacuation of about 50 families, fire officials said.
Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Tom Brown and David Brunnstrom