Cooler weather temporarily aids effort to fight fire in New Mexico

A wildfire in New Mexico has burned more than 311K acres

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Cooler weather in New Mexico has helped firefighters manage the nation's largest wildfire. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service said the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires were 41% contained, spanning over 311,148 acres.

WILDFIRE EFFORTS IN US WEST TO SEE SOME RELIEF AS EXTREME HEAT FORECAST ACROSS EAST

Nearly 3,000 personnel are working to fight the merged blazes that have destroyed hundreds of structures and forced evacuations. Many evacuation orders have been relaxed in recent days.

A Chinook Helicopter dips out of Monastery Lake in the West Zone of New Mexico's Hermits Peak and the Calf Canyon Fires.

A Chinook Helicopter dips out of Monastery Lake in the West Zone of New Mexico's Hermits Peak and the Calf Canyon Fires. (Credit: Eric Hendrickson, U.S. Forest Service)

Firefighters also expanded contingency firebreaks northeast of Santa Fe and efforts were aided by water-dropping helicopters and aircraft. 

Rising humidity was expected to add moisture to the bone-dry fuels on forest floors for a few more days, but it is not forecast to last. 

GAYLORD, MICHIGAN RAVAGED BY RARE TORNADO

Critical fire weather will resurface.

"Just because we’ve had a few good days of weather... it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet," San Miguel County Sheriff Chris Lopez said on Monday.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported that those dangerous conditions are likely in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico

Drought fueled by climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of forest and grassland fires across the western U.S.

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The number of square miles burned so far this year is far above the 10-year national average.

There are 14 active large fires burning nationwide, with more than 1.7 million acres scorched around the country this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.