Federal officials are warning that expanding drought conditions coupled with hot and dry weather, extreme wind and unstable atmospheric conditions have led to explosive fire behavior in the southwestern U.S., where large fires continued their march across New Mexico on Friday.
Crews also battled blazes in Texas and Colorado, where forecasters issued red flag warnings due to elevated fire danger.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore cited the extreme conditions Friday in announcing a pause on prescribed fire operations on all national forest lands while his agency conducts a 90-day review of protocols, decision-making tools and practices ahead of planned operations this fall.New Mexico wildfire sparks backlash against controlled burns. That’s bad for the West
“Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved. Our employees who are engaging in prescribed fire operations are part of these communities across the nation,” Moore said in a statement. “The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”