New Mexico Fire Hits 70 Percent Containment

CAPITAN, N.M. (AP) -- Firefighters on Monday continued mopping up and working to reseed and restore areas burned by the 48,000-acre Peppin Fire in the Capitan Mountains.

The lightning-caused fire, reported May 15 six miles northeast of Capitan, was 70 percent contained and was burning within lines cleared by firefighters, officials said Monday.

Wind from the north stoked flames on the fire's western flank Sunday, pushing it into unburned areas that were still well inside the lines, said Gary Roberts, a fire information officer.

``We're not overly concerned,'' he said. ``We just want to monitor the situation, and the area's that it's in, I'd say, is the last hurrah of the fire.''

Dense smoke blew into valleys south and east of the Capitan Mountains, prompting smoke advisories for the area through early Monday morning.

The forecast called for thunderstorms in the area through Tuesday, prompting Lincoln National Forest officials to request that the current team managing the fire remain in place through Tuesday night. After that, a new management team will take control to continue mop up and rehabilitation efforts.

The change will not affect firefighting efforts or efforts to rehabilitate the area, Lincoln supervisor Jose Martinez said.

The fire burned a dozen cabins and some outbuildings last month. Some of the owners charged during an emotional meeting in Capitan last week that the Forest Service did not do enough in the early days of the fire to stop its spread.

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