ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters battling a fast-moving blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes and numerous other structures in central New Mexico are bracing for hot, dry and windy weather as they look for any chance Friday to slow the flames.
Fire managers released the damage assessment overnight after saying previously that the blaze destroyed some structures near the small community of Chilili as it made a big push Wednesday night.
Authorities also expanded the mandatory evacuation zone to include a few more subdivisions to the north and east, but they could not immediately say how many homes were affected or how many were directly threatened by the fire.
Dozens of residents left their homes in the Chilili area Wednesday after the fire made a big push. Residents packed their vehicles with clothes, photo albums and other belongings, and some loaded animals into livestock trailers as a wall of smoke loomed between them and the border of the Cibola National Forest.
Gov. Susana Martinez declared an emergency, clearing the way for state resources to help with the fire. She surveyed the blaze via air Thursday evening and received a briefing from state and federal officials.