New Mexico wildfire scorches nearly 300,000 acres, becomes largest wildfire in state history

The Hermits Peak fire started on April 6 when a prescribed burn got out of control

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The Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire has destroyed hundreds of homes and scorched nearly 300,000 acres in the last five weeks, making it the largest wildfire in New Mexico's history. 

A combination of steep terrain, high temperatures, and low humidity has complicated efforts for the more than 2,000 firefighters currently trying to suppress the blaze, which was 27% contained on Monday. 

The Hermits Peak fire started on April 6 when a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest got out of control due to unexpected winds. The Calf Canyon Fire started about two weeks later and merged with the Hermits Peak fire on April 22. 

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Strong winds have periodically kept scooper planes out of the skies, while complex terrain in the mountains has slowed down progress for firefighters on the ground. 

The wildfire had burned 298,060 acres on Monday morning, surpassing the previous record set in the state by the Whitewater Baldy fire in 2012. 

The Sipapu ski resort, located about 20 miles south of Taos in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and surrounding areas issued mandatory evacuation orders on Sunday evening. 

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Elsewhere in New Mexico, the Cerro Pelado fire has burned about 45,000 acres west of Santa Fe, while the Cooks Peak fire had scorched about 59,000 acres to the northwest.