Hundreds evacuated in northern New Mexico as wildfire burns in

PECOS, New Mexico (AP) - Firefighters worked to protect houses
and a watershed from a northern New Mexico wildfire that had forced
hundreds of people out of their homes.
The 585-acre (234-hectare) fire was moving toward the northeast
Tuesday and elite "hotshot" fire crews struggled to keep the
flames from moving into Santa Fe's watershed, said Charlie
Jankiewicz, fire information officer.
"It's very steep, heavily forested terrain. It's very
difficult," he said.
The city of Santa Fe, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the
fire, already is short of water and has imposed severe
Crews had contained 40 percent of the fire by late Tuesday.
State police asked about 300 residents of Dalton and Pecos
canyons to leave their homes Monday as a precaution, said state
police Lt. Rob Shilling. Several small communities and campgrounds
dot the pine-covered hills.
None of them had been allowed to return Tuesday, authorities
Dalton Canyon, where the fire started on Monday, contains about
15 homes.
"A structural fire group is protecting those homes right now
and trying to pretreat them so they do not burn - water, foaming
them down, removing fuel from around the houses," Jankiewicz said.
No homes had been burned and no fire-related injuries were
reported, he said.
Cora Gonzales and her husband packed up their suitcases and
gathered important papers and photographs of their grandchildren
before leaving their home at the foot of Macho Canyon.
"I could smell smoke. It was thick. It was the most smoke I've
seen," said Gonzales, who has lived in the area 17 years. She said
she could see flames from her front porch when they prepared to
leave Monday.
To the north, a Colorado fire that had chased some 2,400 people
from their homes was 70 percent contained Tuesday, and crews hoped
to have it fully contained by Wednesday, fire information officer
Sara Mayben said.
Tuesday night, residents were allowed to return to the last of
nine subdivisions in the area 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of
Denver. Earlier, the 340-acre (136-hectare) fire had spread to
within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of one cluster of homes.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
After a dry winter, more than 400 wildfires have burned about
15,600 acres (6,240 hectares) in Colorado this year, according to
the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center of the National
Interagency Fire Center.

(Copyright 603 by The Associated Press.