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Dry Southwest braces for stiffer winds, 'epic' fire danger

Calf Creek Fire NM
The Calf Canyon and Hermit's Peak fires have merged into one massive blaze east of Santa Fe.

Thousands of firefighters have continued to slow the advance of destructive wildfires in the Southwest.

But they're bracing for the return of the same dangerous conditions Friday that sparked and spread the wind-fueled blazes a week ago.

At least 166 homes have been destroyed in one rural county in northeast New Mexico since the biggest U.S. fire started racing through small towns northeast of Santa Fe last Friday.

Winds gusting up to 50 mph are forecast Friday in the drought-stricken region.

Fire behavior experts say it's a recipe for disaster where timber the size of a 4-by-4 piece of lumber contains fuel moisture drier than kiln-dried wood.