Dangerous weather forecast after fire crews slow New Mexico blazes

New Mexico officials warn that residents should be prepared for evacuations as fire weather conditions continue

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New Mexico crews made progress on major fires Wednesday ahead of what is expected to be dangerous fire weather

The U.S. Forest Service said the nation's largest fire – and the state's biggest wildfire – has grown to more than 303,340 acres. 

WESTERN FIRES FUELED BY WINDS PROMPT EVACUATIONS, FOREST CLOSURES

The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires – which merged into one large fire last month – are now 34% contained. 

More than 2,100 personnel are working in the air and on the ground to fight the blaze, digging back-up fire lines and rearranging fire engines around homes. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said damage estimates for homes and structures could reach more than 1,000 and no new evacuations were ordered.

The leader has warned that residents should be ready for potential evacuations all summer. 

EFFORTS TO BATTLE FIRE IN NEW MEXICO AIDED BY THUNDERSTORMS

Officials with three of New Mexico’s five national forests announced closure orders that are scheduled to take effect on Thursday. 

After somewhat of a lull in fire weather conditions, Fox Weather reported that widespread critical fire danger – fueled by dry and windy conditions driven by climate change and a historic "megadrought" – is returning to the Southwest on Thursday. 

Fire weather warnings are in effect for much of New Mexico, Colorado, southern Utah and northern Arizona.

Thunderstorms are also a concern and previous lightning strikes this month have started small fires. 

The National Interagency Fire Center said that three new large fires were reported in Texas on Tuesday and that the majority of the large fires are in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Evacuations were ordered in Taylor County, Texas, on Tuesday, where a firefighter was injured, and lightning triggered a grass fire at Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park on Wednesday.

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About 1.3 million acres have burned this year nationwide. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.