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Rain, snow slow New Mexico fire, but hot, dry weather looms

Smoke from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire drifts over Las Vegas, N.M., on Saturday.
Robert Browman
/
The Albuquerque Journal via AP
Smoke from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire drifts over Las Vegas, N.M., on Saturday.

Light rain and a bit of snow in the mountains of northern New Mexico helped slow the largest wildfire in North America.

But nearly 3,000 firefighters are continuing to scramble to clear flammable vegetation and deploy aircraft to douse flames ahead of a worsening fire forecast into the weekend.

The Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the primary wildfire season across many parts of the Southwest. But wildland blazes already have burned an area larger than the state of Delaware this year in extremely dry conditions created by lingering drought and climate change.

A new fire that broke out Wednesday briefly forced some evacuations near Flagstaff, Arizona.