Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crews use light winds to fight New Mexico wildfires‎

Crews battling a massive wildfire in southwestern New Mexico's Gila National Forest began burnout operations Monday aimed at halting the blaze from creeping into two small towns.

After growing to more than 190 square miles and becoming one of the largest fires in New Mexico history, lighter winds helped firefighters start control measures along the mountainous forest lands. Last week, strong winds forced crews to the sidelines as the fire rapidly spread in an isolated region of southwestern New Mexico, destroying a dozen homes and several in the community of Willow Creek, which remains under evacuation. No other communities were threatened.

Denise Ottaviano, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the blaze, said since the winds slowed, the fire hasn't made a significant push toward the small, privately owned ghost town of Mogollon. However, nearby residents were forced to evacuate.

On Sunday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez authorized the deployment of 15 National Guard soldiers to help secure areas around the fire.

The 156,593-acre Los Conchas fire last year was the state's largest in its history when it charred around 244 square miles. Read More