I just got back from a trip to northwest New Mexico. New Mexico is suffering from a deep and prolonged drought. The entire state is experiencing at least a moderate drought with 82% of the state in a extreme or exceptional drought. That makes New Mexico’s drought the worst of any state in the nation. The contrast between the country west of the Mississippi and east is remarkable. There is virtually no drought east of the Mississsippi while west of the river portions of 20 out of 22 states are experiencing at least a moderate drought.
The parched land has been vulnerable to wildfires. New Mexico is tied with Colorado for the largest number of “large incident” fires currently burning. There are five such fires including the Thompson Ridge fire that has burned nearly 24,000 acres.
I was personally touched by the story of highly decorated veteran James Sanchez who lost his home to a fire. His home was just down the street from the camp I was staying at. The lack of easy access to water means even small fires can end in tragedy since local fire departments have difficulty getting water to the scene quickly. His friends have come to his aid to raise support to rebuild. The closest fire department is about 50 miles away. An area fire department was forced to close because of a lack of funding and that lead to the cancellation of fire insurance for several residents including Sanchez.