New Mexico Wildfire Reaches 50,000+ Acres

CAPITAN, N.M. (AP) -- Pockets of flame sent up smoke Wednesday within containment lines cleared around the Peppin Fire, which has scorched 51,685 acres in the Capitan Mountains.

``While some parts of the fire have cooled nicely, others continue to be active and we are giving them our full attention,'' said Steve Bumgarner, who is in charge of the firefighting efforts.

The lightning-caused fire, reported May 15 six miles northeast of Capitan in south-central New Mexico, was 80 percent contained, officials said.

Crews were securing the fire's western flank, assessing trigger points on the southern flank and patrolling for hot spots along the northern and eastern perimeters.

The blaze - in the Lincoln National Forest - has burned 12 cabins along with mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, pinon and juniper trees in rugged terrain.

The firefighting force was pared from 298 people Tuesday to 125 people Wednesday. Also assigned to the blaze were two helicopters and five engines.

The fire has cost more than $5.6 million, officials said.