Year in review: Wild weather reaches extremes

  • Wildfires mark year

A dry, windy spring created conditions for one of the more massive wildfires to hit eastern New Mexico in decades.

Sparks from a wheel following a tire blowout near Melrose spurred the April 17 fire that burned about 71,000 acres, destroyed three homes, killed dozens of livestock and sent three firefighters to the hospital.

Clovis fire Chief Ray Westerman said 30-mph winds helped fuel the fire, which burned about 11 hours and covered 25 miles across Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Weather records showed the region had received only a trace of moisture in a month and barely an inch in the year’s first 4 1/2 months. Cannon Air Force Base had only received 9 inches of moisture for the year by mid-December — about half the annual average.

Burn bans were enacted across the region. Still, multiple prairie fires consumed tens of thousands of acres through the summer. Five structures were lost in a June 18 blaze that spanned more than 20,000 acres across the Curry and Quay County line.