ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A wildfire burning in central New Mexico grew to more than 3-square miles and forced evacuations, after sending up a towering plume of smoke that blanketed the state's largest city in a thick haze.
The blaze burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to declare an emergency, clearing the way for state funds to be used.
Evacuations continued overnight in Bernalillo and Torrance counties, Bernalillo County officials said. At least 50 residences had been evacuated by Thursday morning, they said, and several people had taken shelter at a community center in Tijeras, which also took in dozens of pets.
The New Mexico Environment Department and state Health Department of Health issued an advisory, warning that smoke from the fire would affect Albuquerque and the surrounding areas as well as other parts of New Mexico, including Santa Fe, as it drifted north.
The forecast called for more hot, dry and stagnant weather, and officials said that's expected to contribute to increased smoke concentrations throughout this weekend.
The governor issued the emergency declaration Wednesday and directed state agencies to offer all available resources to assist local authorities. Martinez said the first priority is the health and safety of New Mexicans.