The largest wildfire in North America nearly came to a halt Tuesday through light rain and some snow in north New Mexico as nearly 3.000 firefighters advanced to avert a sharpening of the fire’s forecast in coming days.
Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the main wildfire season in many regions of the South West.
In Arizona, a fire forced immediate evacuations near Flagstaff on Tuesday.
Authorities investigating the cause said they were searching for a person of interest near the launch point, which is around 8 miles from the Lowell Observatory.
Firefighters in New Mexico said they hoped to clear the flammable vegetation further and use planes Wednesday to clear molten forests ahead of windier, hotter and drier conditions over the weekend.
By Friday “fire weather starts to enter the critical stage where we’ll probably see more growth and fire moving,” Stewart Turner, fire performance analyst with the Forest Service, said at a news briefing Tuesday evening.
A fire broke out in parts of Gila National Forest and in remote areas of southwest New Mexico.