Biden to visit New Mexico for wildfire briefing

·2 min read

Jun. 11—Final preparations are underway for President Joe Biden's visit to New Mexico this afternoon, and authorities are warning drivers to expect delays on Interstate 25 as it will be shut down twice for the president's motorcade.

Biden is heading to Santa Fe for a wildfire briefing with state officials as New Mexico grapples with one of its worst fire seasons. Hundreds of homes have already been destroyed and thousands of New Mexicans have had to flee their homes.

The presidential visit comes as the federal government faces criticism for starting what is now the largest fire in state history. Biden is planning to meet with first responders and families affected by wildfires, according to the White House.

The Governor's Office estimates that the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire has damaged or destroyed about 1,200 homes. Firefighting costs to date exceed $206 million.

U.S. Forest Service crews ignited a prescribed burn on April 6 west of Las Vegas.

But erratic winds fanned flames outside the project boundary.

By the afternoon, the agency declared the incident the Hermits Peak wildfire.

The Calf Canyon Fire started as a Forest Service pile burn from late January that reignited months later and even after several snowstorms.

Both fires merged in late April and have now grown to more than 320,000 acres.

In early May, Biden approved a major disaster declaration so that people affected by several New Mexico wildfires could begin getting federal assistance.

Several federal agencies are offering financial compensation for lost property and funding for temporary housing.

This year's fire season has been early and destructive. More than 608,000 acres have burned across New Mexico this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Authorities say Interstate 25 will be shut down twice on Saturday as the president travels through Albuquerque to and from Santa Fe. They did not give specific times for the closures.

Expect delays on I-25 for presidential motorcade

Freeway will be shut down twice on Saturday as President Biden travels through Albuquerque...

June 10, 2022 8:29AM