Residents in New Mexico are seeking help after planned burns by federal officials turned into the largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history, NBC News reports.
Since April, federal officials have shared that the fire has destroyed 430 homes across 500 square miles, and thousands have been displaced from their homes due to evacuations as well. As residents are now concerned over erosion and mudslides that come as a result of such flames, investigators have learned that the fires began from two fires set by federal forest managers, and Mora County residents are now suing the U.S. Forest Service, NBC shares.
Las Vegas resident Ralph Arellanes told the publication that ranchers without insured cabins will likely not be compensated for damages following the toll that the fires took.
“They’ve got their day job and their ranch and farm life. It’s not like they have a big old house or hacienda — it could be a very basic home, may or may not have running water,” the former firefighter said. “They use it to stay there to feed and water the cattle on the weekend. Or maybe they have a camper. But a lot of that got burned.”
President Joe Biden, during his visit to the state Saturday, was said to have met with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to discuss the toll of the wildfires on the citizens of New Mexico, per CBS. Outside of the briefing, there are no plans for the president—who issued a major disaster declaration in early May for five counties— to visit areas that have been damaged.
“The governor expects to have an open and productive conversation with the president about ways the federal government can better serve New Mexicans affected by these fires, especially given the federal government’s role in their ignition,” Nora Sackett, press secretary to Lujan Grisham, told the publication.
Biden told reporters earlier in the week that he “can’t commit that on my own” when asked about covering the damage, and that he’ll “support what they’re doing” in Congress.