Largest Wildfires in New Mexico’s History

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Wildfire season has started early in New Mexico. Multiple wildfires have been burning in the state since April. These fires have surpassed the largest fires in New Mexico’s history. Dry conditions, high winds, and the number of fires have hindered fire suppression. Fortunately, most of the wildfires are either contained or approaching containment.

  • The Cooks Peak Fire started on May 13th. It is now 100% contained but is still actively burning. It has burned 59,000 acres and its cause is unknown at this time.
  • The largest wildfire, Hermits Peak, started as two separate fires: a prescribed burn that became uncontrolled on April 6th; and a holdover fire from January that reemerged around the same time. Hermits Peak is the largest fire in New Mexico’s history with a total area burned at 315,000 acres.
  • Cerro Pelado began on April 22nd and its cause is still unknown. It has burned 45,000 acres.
  • Bear Trap began on May 1st and has burned 38,000 acres. Fire teams are suppressing damage to natural resources in the surrounding forest/grasslands.
  • The Black Fire started on May 14th in the Gila wilderness. It has grown to 249,000 acres and fire crews are attempting to prevent it from crossing into Gila National Forest.
Pictured are the VIIRS Nighttime Fire Detections for April 20th – May 27th, 2022. The more pronounced the color, the longer that area has been burning.