Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires and Mudslides

California Fires

Other Fires

Fire Bulletins

Fire Litigation

Leaders

Justice For Everyone

Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires and Mudslides, Largest Wildfire Disasters in New Mexico History, Burns More Than 300,000 Acres, Destroys Hundreds of Homes

The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire and Mudslides (also known as the Hermits Peak Fire and/or Calf Canyon Fire) is the largest wildfire in New Mexico State history. The blaze devastated the town of Las Vegas, NM, and nearby communities as it destroyed more than 600 homes and burned down 300,000 acres of the Pecos Wilderness.

The Hermits Peak fire started April 6 when a controlled burn conducted by the United States Forest Service escaped its boundaries among high winds. The Hermit Fire then merged with the Calf Canyon Fire to create a massive blaze that was not contained for nearly three months.

As of June 30, the Calf Canyon Hermits Peak Fires were still just 93% contained, having burned 341,735 acres. Shortly after the fires stopped burning, the area was hit by deadly flash floods and mudslides that lasted for the next two months – with flash flood warnings and flood advisories in the area being issued by the National Weather Service until late August.

Although the fires were initially sparked by a preventative measure by the government — a prescribed burn that quickly became uncontrollable — the US Forest Service has defended the action.

US Forest Service Reviews Hermits Peak Fire Cause

The US Forest Service initially declined to release details over the decision to ignite the fire even as the state was experiencing extremely high winds — with widespread wind gusts regularly ranging between 55 and 70 mph. — and drought conditions.

The “prescribed burn plan” and any other documents related to the fire were not immediately released by the Forest Service.

The US Forest Service’s internal review of the cause of the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires was released on June 19, 2022. It stated that the agency used outmoded modeling and failed to account for several factors when they chose to ignite the prescribed burn, including prolonged drought, steep terrain, and unpredictable winds.

For more details, read the full USFS report.

Find a Hermits Peak Fire Lawyer

If you or a loved one were affected by the recent tragic wildfires in New Mexico, including the Hermits Peak Fire and Calf Canyon Fire, contact us for a free consultation today. Singleton Schreiber is working with the experienced New Mexico wildfire attorneys at Payne & Jimenez,  Rothstein Donatelli LLP, and ADVISE Law Firm to represent victims of these devastating New Mexico fires.

Bringing our expertise as top California wildfire attorneys, we can help you learn about potential Hermits Peak Fire compensation and understand all of your legal options, whether you have insurance or not. You deserve to be reimbursed for your losses.

Whether you rent or own your property, you shouldn’t pay the price for wildfires caused by negligent government agencies. Years of experience in fire litigation have allowed our attorneys to develop strong relationships with qualified fire experts who can help achieve the very best results for your case.

If you’ve sustained injuries, property loss, or property damage from fires in New Mexico, our experienced New Mexico fire lawyers are here to inform you of your legal options and ensure your interests are represented.

Hundreds of Homes Burned in Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires Caused by Prescribed Burn

The Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire destroyed at least 635 homes in Mora County, San Miguel County, and Taos County. The blazes joined to become the largest single fire in New Mexico state history.

According to official reports, forecasted weather conditions were within parameters for the prescribed fire, but “unexpected erratic winds in the late afternoon caused multiple spot fires that spread outside the project boundary.”

The Hermits Peak Fire ignited approximately 12 miles northwest of Las Vegas, NM at the base of Hermits Peak in the Pecos Wilderness (much of the area has since reopened to recreation). The steep, rugged terrain made accessing the blaze challenging for firefighters.

Several other large blazes ignited throughout the state in the months before the Las Vegas fires, as high winds raged over dry conditions. These included the Cooks Peak Fire in Mora County (nearly 60,000 acres), the Cerro Pelado Fire in Los Alamos County (more than 45,000 acres), and the Nogal Canyon and McBride Fires in Lincoln County (6,000 acres).

In addition to other fires caused by power companies, the Hermits Peak Fire was caused by a prescribed burn. PNM is aware of downed power lines in the state that have caused other recent New Mexico wildfires, including the Nogal Canyon Fire.

Calf Canyon Fire Ignited Two Weeks Later, Five Miles From Hermits Peak Fire

The Calf Canyon Fire ignited on April 19, 2022, on Federal land near Gallinas Canyon. It was quickly announced that the team in command of the Hermits Fire response would assume control of the Calf Canyon Fire response as well.

Gallinas is about five miles away from Hermits Peak. 

Within days, the Calf Canyon Fire merged with the Hermits Peak Fire as area residents were being evacuated to shelters in Las Vegas, NM.

On May 22, the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) announced that it had established a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to begin the assessment of National Forest System (NFS) lands impacted by the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The team said they plan to start its assessment in the Upper Gallinas Watershed and work through the burned area to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands and “take immediate actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first post-fire damaging events.”

While the USFS cannot recommend treatments to private property owners, they will share their analysis, data, and findings with local, state, and federal agencies that can provide direct assistance to private landowners, including residents and business owners.

Hermits Peak Fire Assistance Act Bill Introduced for Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire Compensation

New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation introduced legislation on May 11, 2022, that would provide compensation for victims of the Hermits Peak Fire and Calf Canyon Fire.

The bill is modeled on another bill that was written to provide compensation for victims of the Cerro Grande Fire that scorched the state in 2000 — also caused a prescribed burn.

If the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act passes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be required to fully compensate victims of the Hermits Peak Fire and Calf Canyon Fire for personal injury, property loss, business loss, and other hardships resulting from the fire.

“In my opinion, there’s liability by the federal government here,” U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján told the Santa Fe Reporter.

Update: The regulations for the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Relief Program have been published. You can read the document here.

President Biden Approves Request to Declare Presidential Disaster in New Mexico, Bringing New Relief, Resources

On May 4, 2022, President Joe Biden approved New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s request for the declaration of a presidential disaster.

A statement released by the White House said that the action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Colfax County, Lincoln County, Mora County, San Miguel County, and Valencia County.

“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” according to the statement.

Any business owners or residents who have experienced property losses in those counties are encouraged to apply for assistance at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585(TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s formal request for the declaration estimated total expenditures to state and local governments for disaster recovery at $120 million.

A New History of Wildfires in New Mexico

At the same time, other fires have been burning in the state, including the nearby Nogal Canyon fire, which was caused by downed power lines. That fire destroyed six homes and eight outbuildings after Public Service Company power lines went down on April 12, the same day the McBride Fire ignited.

The Nogal Canyon blaze sparked about 10 miles to the northwest of Ruidoso, where the much larger McBride Fire had evacuated more than half of the town. The Nogal Canyon area was also evacuated.

The same month has seen wildfires burning throughout the state. The Cooks Peak Fire started April 17 and burned nearly 60,000 acres in Mora County, while the Cerro Pelado Fire ignited April 22 in Jemez Springs and burned more than 45,000 acres in Los Alamos County.

The town of Ruidoso was also the site of the most destructive wildfire in the history of New Mexico in 2012. The Little Bear Fire destroyed 240 homes and nearly 45,000 acres of forest after a lightning strike.

Our New Mexico Fire Lawyers Can Get You Compensation for Damages From the Hermits Peak Fire and Calf Canyon Fire

If you or a loved one have experienced a Calf Canyon or Hermits Peak Fire evacuation, property damage or loss from fire, or any injury, hospitalization, wrongful death, psychological trauma, or other long-term health issue caused by these or other New Mexico wildfires, the competent fire attorneys at Singleton Schreiber can help you recover the fair and full compensation you need to move forward with your life.

If You Have Experienced Any of the Following, You May Be Eligible for Hermits Peak Fire Compensation.​

  • Expensive Evacuation
  • Wrongful Death from Fire or Smoke
  • Hospitalization
  • Serious Burns
  • Other Serious Personal Injury
  • Long-Term Health Effects
  • Psychological Impact
  • Home Loss
  • Structure Loss
  • Damage to Animals/Pets
  • Damage to Timber/Trees
  • Erosion
  • Vegetation Loss
  • Damage to Landscaping
  • Significant Property Damage
  • Economic Loss
  • Agriculture Loss
  • Damage to Infrastructure
  • Business Loss
  • Business Interruption
  • Smoke Damage
  • Damage from Soot & Ash
  • Underinsured Property
  • FEMA Assistance
  • Utility & Other Service Interruptions
  • Housing Market Impacts

Frequently Asked Questions

The Hermits Peak Fire has become the largest wildfire in New Mexico State history, devastating communities and destroying more than 600 homes and 316,353 acres since it got out of control on April 6, 2022.

The Calf Canyon Fire ignited on April 19, 2022, on Federal land near Gallinas Canyon, a few miles away from where the Hermits Peak Fire was already burning.The fires are responsible for at least 316,971 acres burned.

The Calf Canyon Fire ignited just two weeks after the prescribed burn that became the Hermits Peak Fire got out of control. The Calf Canyon Fire ignited on federal land a few miles away from where the Hermits Peak Fire was already burning.

The Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire have destroyed at least 635 homes in Mora County, San Miguel County, and Taos County. The blazes have joined to become the largest single fire in New Mexico state history.

The Hermits Peak fire started on April 6, 2022, when a controlled burn conducted by the United States Forest Service escaped its boundaries among high winds. The Hermits Peak Fire then merged with the Calf Canyon Fire to become the largest wildfire in New Mexico's history.

 

According to official reports, forecasted weather conditions were within parameters for the prescribed fire, but “unexpected erratic winds in the late afternoon caused multiple spot fires that spread outside the project boundary.”

As of June 3, 2022, the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire is 62% contained, having burned 316,971 acres. Although the fires were initially sparked by a preventative measure by the government — a prescribed burn that quickly became uncontrollable — the US Forest Service has defended the action.

If you or a loved one were affected by the McBride Fire or the Nogal Canyon Fire, contact the experienced wildfire attorneys at Singleton Schreiber and Payne and Jimenez to understand your legal options.

 

Homeowners, renters, business owners, and others may have valid legal claims to substantial compensation for property damage and property loss caused by these New Mexico wildfires.

If you’re a renter, you can join a class-action lawsuit — if one is filed — against the utility company seeking compensation for damages from the McBride Fire or other recent New Mexico wildfires. 

 

Whether you rent or own your property, you shouldn’t pay the price for wildfires caused by negligent power companies. If a utility company’s equipment sparks a fire that damages your property, you deserve to be reimbursed for your losses.


Read more about rented home loss from wildfires here.