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2 New Mexico counties added to wildfire disaster declaration

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two more New Mexico counties have been added to a federal disaster declaration issued in response to the state's historic wildfire season.

State officials said Thursday that Los Alamos and Sandoval counties will now be eligible for grant funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The counties were affected by a wildfire that charred over 70 square miles (181 square kilometers) in the mountains near Los Alamos. Crews are now working on repairs to limit post-fire flooding.

New Mexico's governor also recently secured an extension of the disaster declaration as well as the addition of flooding impacts in the wake of the fires, which included a massive blaze that was sparked by operations planned by the federal government to clear out overgrown and dead vegetation in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

That blaze became the largest in New Mexico's recorded history. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, thousands of people were forced to evacuate and crews are now scrambling to address post-fire flooding that has sent tons of ash, mud and other debris flowing from the burn scar.

Experts have said the environmental consequences of the blaze will be felt for decades.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also has requested that FEMA commit to continuing to cover 100% of the total eligible costs under the extended duration of the disaster declaration. Her office said that request is outstanding.