Monsoon rain prompts flooding concerns for New Mexico burn scars

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico is just days into monsoon season, and there’s been plenty of rain so far.

But heavy downpours in cities and towns across New Mexico increased worries of potentially devastating flooding this week in and around the state’s burn scars. Virtually every burn scar in the state will likely see thunderstorm activity over the next three days.

“The way we’re treating tomorrow is that tomorrow it’s going to flood,” said Jason Coil, operations section chief. 

“Our main goal the next couple of days is keeping firefighters and the public safe through these rain events,” said Marcus Cornwell, operations section chief. 

The north and south section chiefs of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire are shifting some of their focus from the burn area, to the residents and communities beyond.

“Today we have about 100 firefighters assisting local government out by the airport filling sandbags today,” said Cornwell. 

New Mexico has already seen the damage fire zone flooding can do, for example, the Dixon Apple Farm that was wiped out in 2011. 

The National Weather Service warns of a “very high” probability of thunderstorm activity – especially tomorrow and Wednesday – over every major burn area in New Mexico.

Crews spent the weekend building barriers along the Gallinas River in Las Vegas, hoping it works to keep floodwaters away from homes and businesses.

Back on the fire line – a warning.

“We have today, and y’all have today to figure out what has to be done around your place, your communication plans, with any sandbagging or anything like that to make sure you’re prepared,” said Coil.