New Mexico fire still growing
GLENWOOD, N.M. – Crews fighting a wildfire in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico benefited from lighter winds Sunday, allowing them to focus on building protection lines on key flanks of the blaze and preparing to send water-dropping helicopters into the air for the first time in several days.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire continued to grow, burning more than 122,000 acres, or 191 square miles, by midday Sunday and was about two miles away from the privately owned ghost town of Mogollon in southwestern New Mexico.
The town was evacuated Saturday due to extreme winds, but no homes there have been destroyed.
Denise Ottaviano, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the blaze, said the fire remains active near Mogollon, but the blaze hasn’t made a significant push toward the town. Crews were working to build a protection line between Mogollon and the fire’s western edge.
The blaze, however, destroyed a dozen homes and several outbuildings on Wednesday in the community of Willow Creek, which remains under evacuation. Officials said crews were taking measures to protect homes in Willow Creek.
No other communities were threatened.
On Sunday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez authorized the deployment of 15 National Guard soldiers to help secure areas around the fire, which is zero percent contained.
Despite tamer winds, crews were still contending with extremely dry conditions and are expecting a decrease in humidity.
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