Firefighters are bracing for another day of hot, dry and windy conditions as they battle a fast-moving wildfire in New Mexico.
The Assayii Lake Fire blackened more than 19 square miles in less than two days while making its way across summer and winter grazing areas in the Chuska Mountains east of the Arizona-New Mexico border.
The flames destroyed at least four structures and threatened about 50 homes near the communities of Naschitti and Sheep Springs, fire officials said. Some homes in Naschitti were evacuated, and authorities were urging desperate Navajo families to refrain from heading into the mountains to search for their sheep and other livestock.
The Navajo Nation’s Department of Agriculture has been busy rounding up trailers to move some of the livestock corralled and brought down from the mountain before the fire made its run Monday. Some Navajo families took to social media to ask for hay and water donations.
Authorities did sweeps of sheep camps in the hills and evacuated some people Sunday and Monday. The fire has since burned through those areas.
On Tuesday, close to 600 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the blaze, along with dozens of engines, helicopters and planes. Crews have been trying to find places along the flanks where they could begin building a fire line. The unfavorable weather has hampered efforts to directly attack the flames.