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Critical Fire Condition Warnings Issued Across US Southwest

Wildland firefighters cut up a hollow tree that was burning at the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in the Carson National Forest west of Chacon, New Mexico, on May 23.

Wildland firefighters cut up a hollow tree that was burning at the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in the Carson National Forest west of Chacon, New Mexico, on May 23.

Photographer: Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal/AP Photo

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(AP) -- Warnings of critical fire conditions blanketed much of the U.S. Southwest on Saturday, as crews in northern New Mexico worked to stop the growth of the nation's largest active wildfire.

The 7-week-old fire, the largest in New Mexico history, has burned 491 square miles (1,272 square kilometers) of forest in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe since being started in April by two planned burns.