A man drowned on Sunday in northern New Mexico when a flash flood swept through a burn area left by the state’s largest recorded wildfire, according to a local rancher, marking the fourth such death reported in just over two weeks.
A torrent of water carried the man’s pickup truck off highway 434 at about 2 p.m. some nine miles northeast of the town of Mora, the man’s vehicle was reportedly found on his ranch.
The reported incident follows the deaths of three people after flash flooding on July 21 in part of the burn area near the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Intense heat from the so-called Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon wildfire left soil unable to absorb water, turning hillsides into life-threatening debris flows during summer monsoon rains.
The wildfire and subsequent flooding has left devastation up a 45-mile swathe of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains northeast of Santa Fe where an area the size of Los Angeles has burned.
Over 430 homes have been destroyed since the climate-driven blaze started in April when two federal prescribed fires went out of control.