1. #1
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    Post New Mexico wildfires

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - A 33-acre brush fire was reported this
    weekend, three years to the day after a blaze of similar size in
    2000 started growing into the Cerro Grande Fire that devastated Los
    Alamos.
    Crews quickly built a fire line around this latest blaze, called
    the Cajete Fire, which started Saturday in the Valles Caldera
    National Preserve, said Dolores Maese, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe
    National Forest. A surprise snowstorm also helped slow the fire,
    which was of undetermined cause, she said Sunday.
    It was different May 3, 2000, when the Cerro Grande Fire was
    started by a National Park Service crew hoping to burn away dense
    growth in the backcountry at Bandelier National Monument, also near
    Los Alamos. The crew selected one of the windiest days of 2000 to
    begin, and the fire got away.
    By the time U.S. Forest Service crews could fully assist the
    Park Service, the blaze was beyond managing. It roared into Los
    Alamos on May 8, 2000, burning hundreds of homes and dozens of
    portable buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory on its way to
    charring more than 43,000 acres. Los Alamos was evacuated; 25,000
    people fled.
    The park superintendent at Bandelier, Roy Weaver, retired after
    the fire, writing to citizens of Los Alamos two months later that
    he regretted the fire, the pain, loss and anguish, and he said he
    wished "every day that with some sort of magic I can make it all
    go away."
    At the Cajete Fire on Sunday, firefighters were looking into the
    possibility that a fallen power line might be the cause, Maese
    said.
    For a brief time, she said, the Cajete Fire was considered to be
    a potential threat to crew residences at the Valles Caldera
    headqarters.
    "There is a fire line around it right now," she said.
    "They're working on reinforcing the line. They won't call it
    contained until they're done."
    Containment is predicted sometime Monday, she said.
    "The snow shower came from nowhere," she added. "It wasn't
    predicted. It was a nice wet snow."

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    Post The Walker Fire

    MAYHILL, N.M. (AP) - Firefighters tallying damage from a
    3,430-acre wildfire say three homes and 16 outbuildings were
    destroyed by the Walker Fire since it started Friday afternoon.
    The update issued late Sunday also increased the percentage of
    containment - the degree to which crews have been able to build
    fire lines encircling the blaze - from 30 percent to 60 percent,
    fire team spokesman Joe Garcia said. And nobody was reported hurt.
    Two charred structures that firefighters said earlier might or
    might not have been dwellings were finally identified as homes,
    plus one additional home was listed as having burned, Garcia said
    late Sunday.
    The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Firefighters
    have ruled out lightning as its cause, Garcia said.
    Air tankers and about 300 firefighters continued to fight the
    blaze about seven miles north of Mayhill and some 14 miles east of
    Cloudcroft, fire information officer Karen Lightfoot said.
    "Optimistically, we're thinking containment could happen
    Tuesday night or Wednesday morning," Lightfoot said.
    "They're still working the (fire) lines, creating dozer
    lines," Garcia said.
    "It's almost a done deal," said Beth Wilson, another fire team
    spokeswoman.
    Officials mapped the fire from the air late Sunday and reported
    the acreage increase from 3,000 acres to 3,430 acres.
    The pattern of the blaze looks like "a doughnut with a bite
    taken out of it," Lightfoot said. The wind-frenzied fire grew
    rapidly Friday night into Saturday morning with two fronts
    spreading to the northeast and southeast.
    But lighter winds helped slow the fire's growth Saturday and
    weather conditions continued to help firefighting efforts Sunday.
    Lightfoot said officials had contacted the owners of two of the
    homes destroyed in the fire.
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown
    announced Saturday that his agency will reimburse 75 percent of
    eligible state and local firefighting costs of the Walker Fire.

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    Post Walker Fire

    MAYHILL, N.M. (AP) - A fire that burned more than 3,434 acres
    and destroyed three summer homes and 16 outbuildings in the
    Sacramento Mountains was contained Wednesday.
    An interagency incident management team turned firefighting
    efforts back over to the Sacramento Ranger District and most
    firefighters and resources were released to go home or to other
    fires, according to fire officials.
    Two crews, a water tender and six engines were kept on the
    Walker Fire to continue mop up efforts and to improve containment
    lines.
    Forest rehabilitation efforts were also under way.
    The blaze broke out Friday in ponderosa pine, mixed conifer and
    pinon-juniper forest seven miles north of Mayhill and some 14 miles
    northeast of Cloudcroft. The cause remains under investigation, but
    fire officials said lightning has been ruled out.

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    Post Be safe out there!

    State imposes fire restrictions

    (Santa Fe-AP) -- The state is imposing campfire and smoking
    restrictions for much of New Mexico because of increasing fire
    hazards.
    The restrictions announced by the state Forestry Division will
    take effect tomorrow and apply in 28 counties.
    The state fire restrictions apply to lands outside of
    municipalities, except for federal lands.
    Smoking is restricted to designated areas, within buildings,
    within vehicles with ashtrays and on paved or surfaced roads.
    Campfires are restricted to developed campgrounds or in areas
    designated by the landowner. Charcoal grills are classified as
    campfires.
    Landowners can use charcoal grills in their backyards. But state
    forestry officials are urging people to use extra caution and keep
    a fire extinguisher nearby if possible.
    State Forester Arthur Blazer announced the restrictions as the
    Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches.
    The state restrictions apply to all parts of the state except
    five northern counties: Colfax, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Taos and
    Union counties.


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    Post Busy weekend

    Lightning sparked small fires across the state over the weekend,
    but officials said all were under control Sunday.
    In northern New Mexico, a blaze about three miles north of Ojo
    Feliz scorched more than 200 acres after it ignited Saturday and
    briefly burned out of control.
    But firefighters had the blaze, called the Graduation Fire, 70
    percent contained Sunday using about 40 firefighters, said Eugene
    Pino, a fire management officer for Las Vegas district of the State
    Forestry Division.
    Pino said crews also quickly controlled 10 to 12 fires that
    sparked Friday on private land in the area, one near the Santa Fe
    National Forest.
    In the Lincoln National Forest, crews also had several
    lightning-sparked fires contained Sunday.
    The first started Friday near Capitan. Another was ignited near
    Mayhill while a third called the Lower Elk Fire was sparked on the
    Mescalero reservation northeast of Cloudcroft, both on Saturday.
    Two engines responded to the Mayhill Fire while an air tanker, a
    helicopter and two fire crews contained the Lower Elk Fire. Both
    burned less than an acre.


    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    APTV 05-25-03 1205EDT
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    Post

    Mora County blaze controlled 5/27

    (Ojo Feliz-AP) -- Fire crews today contained a 325-acre fire
    that burned on state forestry land in Mora County.
    The Graduation Fire -- which burned three miles northwest of Ojo
    Feliz -- was sparked by lightning. It was reported Saturday.
    Fire management officer Eugene Pino says crews will continue
    mopping up and patrolling the fire's perimeter for a couple of
    days.
    Another lightning-sparked fire was reported in the area today.
    Crews acted quickly on the Whiskey Fire, which burned between eight
    and ten acres about two miles northwest of the Graduation Fire.
    Pino says it's 45 percent contained.


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    Post Fire burns about 2,500 acres in Gila National Forest

    SILVER CITY, New Mexico (AP) - A fire has burned about 2,500
    acres in the Gila National Forest, 27 miles northwest of Silver
    City, New Mexico.
    U.S. Forest Service officials said they are worried about the
    fire hurting habitat for endangered or threatened species such as
    the Gila trout and the Mexican gray wolf.
    Lightning is believed to have started the Dry Lake Complex Fire
    May 30th. It has burnt brush, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees.
    About 20 firefighters were fighting the blaze.

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    Post

    SILVER CITY, New Mexico (AP) - Firefighters are monitoring a
    blaze that has burned nearly 4,700 acres in the Gila Wilderness.
    The lightening-sparked Dry Lakes Complex Fire has burned into
    Mexican spotted owl habitat and closed of part of the Turkey Creek
    Trail.
    Officials said fire activity Monday was much less than a few
    days ago due to higher humidity.
    Meanwhile, Fire management officer Gerry Engel said another
    fire, called the Ten Crow Fire, has burned about 200 acres in the
    Gila National Forest.
    It started several days ago by lightning, he said. Firefighters
    are trying to keep that blaze from heading north, he said.

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    Default Hazy, smoky skies

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - Haze blamed on extra moisture in the air and
    smoke from wildfires obliterated Sandia Mountain from Albuquerque's
    eastern horizon and obscured the western horizon, prompting the
    city to advise people with respiratory problems to stay indoors.
    The city environmental health department issued an air quality
    health alert through the afternoon due to "coarse and fine
    particulate matter," saying particulate levels had reached the
    unhealthy range.
    Albuquerque officials urged people with respiratory or
    cardiovascular disease, children and the elderly to avoid prolonged
    outdoor activity and physical exertion during the health alert.
    The National Weather Service said the haze was a combination of
    more moisture in the air and smoke from fires in eastern Arizona
    brought into the Albuquerque area by the southwest flow of air.
    The weather service said the moisture will persist for at least
    24 hours.
    A fire in Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near the
    border of New Mexico has burned 1,900 acres. Fire officials hope
    the blaze, in rocky and steep terrain about 15 miles south of
    Alpine, will eventually burn itself out. A small fire also was
    reported burning Monday in the Prescott National Forest near
    Prescott, Ariz.
    Fires also were burning in southwestern New Mexico that could be
    contributing to the haze, officials said. The blazes, started by
    lightning, largely are being managed to burn out accumulated brush
    and help prevent catastrophic fires n the future.
    The smallest of the fires in the Gila National Forest - the
    200-acre Ten Cow Fire that started over the weekend - is producing
    the most smoke, said fire information officer Gerry Engel.
    A fire crew was clearing an area adjacent to Forest Road 142 to
    keep the Ten Cow Fire from spreading too far north, he said.
    The Boiler Fire, which started April 17 northwest of Truth or
    Consequences, has burned more than 49,728 acres but most of that
    area is no longer burning, Engel said. That fire is hemmed in and
    not growing, but is "putting out some smoke yet," he said.
    The Dry Lakes Complex Fire, which began May 30, has burned 4,675
    acres. It is still spreading through brush and some ponderosa pines
    - although high humidity on Monday slowed it down, Engel said.
    "It's putting up some smoke still and will continue to put up
    some smoke for some period of time until we get any significant
    rainfall," he said.
    The communities of Gila, Cliff and Silver City had smoky
    conditions Sunday and Monday, Engel said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Southwest fire information: www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire

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    Post Advisory Issued

    Smoke from burnout expected to drift over western New Mexico

    (Undated-AP) -- Communities in western New Mexico will likely be
    covered with a cloud of smoke over the next few days.
    A burnout operation near a wildfire in Arizona's
    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is expected to produce heavy
    smoke.
    Fire information officer Jim Whittington says the wind is
    expected to blow the smoke northeast to communities like Quemado
    and Reserve. The smoke could reach as far east as Socorro.
    The Thomas Fire has burned two-thousand acres in steep and rocky
    terrain south of Alpine, Arizona.


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    Default

    Add another one to your list. We just had a 200 acre wildfire break out near Oscuro, NM caused by lightning. It is burning on US Army property near the Valley of Fires state park. We have several units operating at it now with no reports of containment.
    IACOJ Military Division
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    As of todays date, 11 June 2003, the fire at Oscuro is approximately 90% contained. We still have a stand-by crew monitoring it. It is expected to burn itself out later today.
    IACOJ Military Division
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    Post 6000 plus acres

    SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) - A complex of fires that started by
    lightning two weeks ago has burned 6,100 acres near Silver City and
    prompted the Gila National Forest to close trails.
    The Dry Lakes Complex Fire, which began May 30, was burning
    through brush and some ponderosa pines nine miles southwest of the
    Gila Cliff Dwellings and 27 miles northwest of Silver City.
    Most of the fire activity is on the west side of the blaze,
    moving down Corral Canyon Creek and Hidden Pasture Creek, the Gila
    reported Thursday.
    The blaze is expected to burn for some time, fire officials
    said.
    The forest closed the Jerky Mountain Trail from Turkey Feather
    Pass to the junction with Marrs Spring Trail. Two other trails
    closed earlier - the Turkey Creek Trail and the trail through
    Woodrow and Sycamore Canyon - remained closed because of their
    proximity to the fire.
    The Dry Lakes Complex consists of fires that started separately
    but burned together. The Dry and Lake fire has burned 5,970 acres,
    while the Moonshine Fire has charred 130 acres, the Gila said.
    The Moonshine Fire was reported June 7 within the boundaries of
    the larger blaze and continues to spread slowly, forest officials
    said. It is burning five miles south of Snow Lake within the
    boundaries of an area that burned in 1997.
    The communities of Gila, Cliff and Silver City had smoky
    conditions Sunday and Monday due to the fires.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Southwest fire information: www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire

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    Post June 17th (edited 6/18 @ 5AM EDT)

    The two largest fires burning in the United States have spread
    over a total of nearly 70,000 acres in in southwestern New Mexico,
    but they're being managed for the benefit of the forest, officials
    said.
    The Boiler Fire, sparked by lightning April 17, has burned
    51,628 acres northwest of Truth or Consequences, Gila National
    Forest spokeswoman Loretta Ray said Tuesday. The fire is completely
    contained and is burning itself out within its perimeter.
    The Dry Lakes Complex has burned at least 18,000 acres in the
    Gila National Forest since May 30. It includes the
    lightning-sparked Dry Lake, Sycamore and Moonshine fires.
    "They're good fires," Ray said in a telephone interview from
    her office in Silver City. "They're low intensity fires. It's been
    a good opportunity to allow fire to resume its role in the
    ecosystem."
    A spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center confirmed
    Tuesday evening that the New Mexico fires were the largest in the
    nation.
    Ray said the size of the fires often alarms people, but they are
    being managed and conditions have been favorable.
    "Although the acreage sounds large, the reality is much of that
    is not 18,000 acres of land on fire," Ray said. "Fire migrates to
    where it finds fuel" and the fire is burning dead or fallen trees
    and debris. "Fire has not had its natural role in those areas
    because of fire suppression."
    The Dry Lakes Complex is expected to burn through early July
    when the state's monsoon season begins, Ray said.
    The complex was given 210,000 acres to burn within, according to
    figures from the Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque.
    The fire activity is being monitored by a national fire use team
    and they've determined the area and amount of time the fires will
    be allowed to burn. The activity within the fire management area
    varies depending on a number of conditions including precipitation,
    wind, fuel and temperature, Ray said.
    Two other fires were burning in the Gila National Forest
    Tuesday. The Ten Cow Fire is also being managed. It has burned
    10,405 acres 32 miles southeast of Reserve. It has been given
    144,346 acres to burn within. It has not grown significantly since
    Friday.
    The Morgan Fire has burned 3,861 acres northeast of Silver City.
    An incident management team has been assigned to the fire.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 06-18-2003 at 05:46 AM.
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    Post June 22nd Update

    Crews battle blazes around New Mexico

    By The Associated Press
    Hours after firefighters contained a small lightning-sparked
    fire in the Santa Fe municipal watershed, crews were busy tackling
    another fire in the nearby Jemez Mountains.
    And in southern New Mexico, firefighters were working Sunday on
    three wildfires in the Gila National Forest.
    A team of 19 firefighters, two engines and a water-dropping
    helicopter worked the weekend to contain the McClure Fire, which
    was sparked by lightning around noon Saturday in the Santa Fe
    watershed.
    The crew completed a line around the blaze Sunday and were
    mopping up hot spots, said Dolores Maese, a spokeswoman for the
    Santa Fe National Forest.
    The fire, which charred about 3 acres, was initially a concern
    because the watershed supplies a major source of water for Santa
    Fe.
    "This is a key source of our water," said fire information
    officer Tom Mott. "We really didn't want this to get out of
    hand."
    To the west in the Jemez Mountains, a wildfire that was spotted
    Sunday atop Virgin Mesa sent a large plume of smoke into the air
    that could be seen from Albuquerque.
    "Because of the winds, they are seeing some spotting. It's
    moving in a northerly direction but it's not threatening any
    property or structures," Maese said.
    The Virgin Fire had charred an estimated 100 by late Sunday,
    officials said. Air tankers, several engines and one dozer were
    helping about 65 firefighters fight the flame.
    Fire information officer Charlie Jankiewicz said six Type I hot
    shot crews and two Type II crews were expected to arrive at the
    fire Monday.
    Smoke could be seen below the mesa along the Jemez River at the
    Hummingbird Music Camp, where 140 children were preparing for a
    week of music lessons. Camp director Les Higgins said Hummingbird
    was not threatened and no evacuations were planned.
    Near Fort Union National Monument, a wildfire has burned about
    200 acres of private ranchland, said John Harrison, a spokesman for
    the State Forestry Division.
    Officials said the Monument Fire appears to have been sparked by
    lightning.
    Harrison said a single-engine air tanker that was helping with
    the fire Sunday apparently hit a patch of dead air, causing it to
    drop and brush a tree.
    The tree damaged the plane's flaps and broke a break line to the
    left landing gear. Harrison said the pilot was able to land the
    plane at the Las Vegas airport.
    In the Gila National Forest, officials continue to use the Dry
    Lake Fire and the Moonshine Fire to clear down and dead forest
    fuel. The two fires have burned more than 21,500 acres since the
    end of May.
    Firefighters were battling three other lightning-sparked fires
    in the Gila on Sunday, including the Seco Fire in the Aldo Leopold
    Wilderness.
    Forest officials said no property or homes were threatened by
    the fires.
    Maese of the Santa Fe forest said lightning strikes over the
    weekend kept firefighters very busy.
    "It was predicted that when we did have our fire season, it
    would be short and that it would hit fast," she said.

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    Post June 23rd

    With NMFAR101
    pvsfonmmsmhfonlh
    By The Associated Press
    Firefighters are pouncing on a blaze that has burned 300 acres
    in the Jemez Mountains, which are dotted with communities and laced
    with hiking and biking trails.
    "We had a real good day," said Rita Skinner, natural resource
    coordinator for the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National
    Forest.
    Officials said crews were working to keep the Virgin Fire small
    and none of the homes or developments in the area were threatened.
    The fire is burning mainly ponderosa pine trees about three
    miles northwest of Jemez Springs atop Virgin Mesa, which is cut by
    canyons. It has sent up plumes of gray smoke seen as far south as
    Albuquerque, about 60 miles away.
    The fire is near two youth camps - the Shaver YMCA Camp and the
    Hummingbird Music Camp - but neither was threatened, Skinner said.
    The blaze was detected Sunday, and the cause was not immediately
    known.
    About 300 firefighters had been pressed into service Monday,
    said Charlie Jankiewicz, a fire information officer with the Santa
    Fe National Forest. Skinner said about 200 were expected to work on
    the fire throughout the night Monday, including several Hot Shot
    crews.
    Two air tankers dropped fire retardant on the blaze on Sunday
    and were used as needed Monday, Skinner said.
    While hot, windy weather has been favoring the fire, location
    favored firefighting efforts, Skinner said.
    "We have a lot going for us on this fire," she said. "It's
    burning on a fuel break we made several years ago so it wouldn't
    crown, and it's heading into two fire scars from the 1970s so
    there's not a lot of fuel."
    Firefighters also were busy in other parts of New Mexico.
    The Barro Fire near Pecos scorched about 70 acres of ponderosa
    pine. About 12 firefighters and a helicopter were assigned to the
    fire, which was reported around noon Sunday. The fire is not
    threatening any structures.
    Near Fort Union National Monument, the lightning-sparked
    Monument Fire burned about 255 acres of private ranch land, said
    John Harrison, a spokesman for the state Forestry Division. He said
    it was 10 percent contained late Monday with 82 firefighters
    battling the blaze.
    "Conditions are bad," he said. "We had another tough day."
    High temperatures, low humidity and winds worked against
    firefighting efforts. While the fire had not moved up into tree
    tops, it was benefiting from a lot of ground fuel that kept it
    burning, Harrison said.
    Two single-engine air tankers dropped fire retardant on the
    blaze Monday, and officials called in a helicopter to help Tuesday
    by dropping water on the fire, Harrison said.
    A single-engine air tanker that was helping with the fire Sunday
    brushed a tree, damaging the airplane's flaps and a brake line to
    the left landing gear. The pilot was able to land the airplane at
    the Las Vegas airport and the tanker was replaced Monday, Harrison
    said.
    In the Gila National Forest, officials continue to use the Dry
    Lake Fire and the Moonshine Fire to clear down and dead forest
    fuel. The two fires have burned more than 21,500 acres since the
    end of May.
    Firefighters were also battling a number of lightning-sparked
    fires in the Gila, including the Seco Fire in the Aldo Leopold
    Wilderness and the Jenny Fire about 8 miles northwest of Chloride.
    The Seco Fire "put up a pretty good column" of smoke Monday,
    said Tim Eldridge, a Gila fire information officer. He said about
    13 Smoke Jumpers - firefighters who parachute into fires - were
    scheduled to fight the Seco Fire Tuesday.
    The Jenny Fire had charred more than 210 acres since it was
    sparked by lightning Friday. About 70 firefighters and support
    personnel were fighting that blaze Monday, and a Rocky Mountain
    regional incident management team was scheduled to arrive to help
    Tuesday, Eldridge said.
    Both fires were burning in a northerly direction.
    No property or homes were threatened by the fires, he said.
    The fires around the state could have been worse had the forests
    been in the same dry condition as last year, officials said.
    Recent weather left an appreciable amount of humidity behind
    before turning drier the past few days, said Mary Zabinski of the
    Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque.
    The humidity has helped dampen what could have been larger
    fires, she said.

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    (Albuquerque-AP) -- Governor Richardson has declared a state of
    emergency because of a fire burning in the Rio Grande bosque in
    Albuquerque.
    The state of emergency was announced by Lieutenant Governor
    Diane Denish this evening as the governor made his way to the city.
    Richardson had returned from Mexico earlier in the day.
    Denish said one helicopter from the Army National Guard of Guard
    had been called in to help fight the fire.
    The state of emergency designation will free up other agencies
    to help. It also will help bring in additional firefighting
    personnel and resources.


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    Default June 24th

    Firefighters were trying Tuesday to contain blazes that have
    burned hundreds of acres in New Mexico's mountains, which have been
    wilting under hot, windy weather.
    "It's not good," said Mark Montoya, fire information officer
    for the Monument Fire, which burned at least 300 acres of mixed
    conifer trees on private land in the Turkey Mountains in northern
    New Mexico.
    Firefighters on Tuesday battled winds of 17 to 20 mph,
    temperatures in the high 80s and relative humidity of 9 percent in
    the area eight miles northeast of Fort Union National Monument in
    Mora County, he said.
    The National Weather Service issued an advisory for strong wind
    through Tuesday evening for much of northern New Mexico, where
    other fires also are burning.
    The Monument Fire, started Saturday apparently by lightning, was
    about 15 percent contained, Montoya said.
    Ninety firefighters using two engines and two bulldozers were
    tackling the blaze, helped by two single-engine air tankers and a
    helicopter, which was dropping buckets of water on the flames,
    Montoya said.
    State Forestry spokesman John Harrison said crews in
    northeastern New Mexico were also battling the Melton Fire, which
    had burned 30 to 40 acres of private land southeast of Las Vegas,
    and the 50-arce Sarge Fire northeast of the Gonzales Ranch.
    A wind-driven fire in the Albuquerque bosque, the heavily wooded
    area along the Rio Grande, forced more than 600 people from their
    homes and prompted the governor's office to declare a state of
    emergency.
    The fire also shut down Interstate 40 across the river for about
    four hours as thick grayish-white smoke obscured the highway.
    A house under construction was destroyed by the blaze that by
    Tuesday night had burned through about 600 acres of brush and other
    vegetation along the river.
    "We'll be here for two or three days trying to put this thing
    out," Albuquerque Fire Chief Robert Ortega said. "It's still an
    active fire."
    No serious injuries were reported, although Ortega said one
    firefighter suffered a minor hand injury.
    The fire burned along the west side of the river, then jumped
    the river and was threatening homes along the eastside in an area
    of north Albuquerque where numerous high-priced homes are located.
    More than 200 homes had been evacuated.
    "It's traveling ... at about 20 miles an hour," Ortega said.
    "The underbrush is heavier on the east side."
    About 16,000 Public Service Company of New Mexico customers were
    temporarily without power because of the bosque fire. PNM spokesman
    Frederick Bermudez said the fire and smoke tripped a transmission
    line in the area, causing the outage.
    Another fire had burned at least 310 acres of mostly ponderosa
    pine trees three miles northeast of Jemez Springs in the Jemez
    Mountains.
    The human-caused Virgin Fire, on Virgin Mesa in the Santa Fe
    National Forest, was about 10 percent contained Tuesday morning,
    said Charlie Jankiewicz, fire information officer.
    About 200 firefighters were working to bolster lines around the
    blaze, which was first reported Sunday, he said. Forest officials
    said the cause of that fire was a small abandoned campfire that had
    been partially extinguished.
    "It was pretty calm last night (Monday). Temperatures were
    lower and humidity had gone up," Jankiewicz said. "But as the sun
    comes up and the winds pick up, it will probably be more active
    today."
    Firefighters were using seven engines, two water tenders and a
    bulldozer, he said. An air tanker was standing by if needed.
    The cost of battling the blaze stood at $450,000 as of Tuesday
    morning, Jankiewicz said.
    Another blaze about 60 miles east, dubbed the Barro Fire, burned
    at least 150 acres of ponderosa pine in the Santa Fe National
    Forest near Pecos. About 40 firefighters were toiling against the
    fire.
    In the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico,
    officials continued to manage the lightning-sparked Dry Lake and
    the Moonshine fires, which are being used to clear down and dead
    forest fuel. The two fires have burned more than 21,500 acres since
    the end of May.
    Firefighters also were battling a number of lightning-sparked
    fires in the Gila, including the 800-acre Seco Fire in the Aldo
    Leopold Wilderness southwest of Chloride that has closed five
    trails, and the 3,500-acre Jenny Fire northwest of Chloride.
    It was too windy Tuesday for a burnout operation on the Seco
    Fire, fire information officers said.
    None of the New Mexico fires threatened any structures.

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    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A wind-driven fire Tuesday roared
    through brush along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, forcing more
    than 600 people to evacuate.
    The fire, which had grown to 600 acres by Tuesday evening, left
    16,000 homes and businesses temporarily without power and destroyed
    a house under construction. Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state
    of emergency.
    "It's traveling ... at about 20 miles an hour," Fire Chief
    Robert Ortega said.
    "Right now, they're trying to get ahead of the fire and break
    it off," Albuquerque police spokesman Jeff Arbogast said. "We're
    just hoping to contain it and suppress it."
    No one was hurt except a firefighter who suffered a minor hand
    injury, Ortega said.
    The fire started along the west side of the Rio Grande, then
    jumped the river and threatened an area of north Albuquerque where
    many high-priced homes are located.
    About 200 homes and a condominium complex were evacuated, and
    Interstate 40 - thick with grayish-white smoke - was shut down.
    The wildfire was one of many burning Tuesday in Arizona and New
    Mexico. Firefighters in both states were hampered by hot, windy
    weather, low humidity and dry vegetation.
    Firefighters in Arizona made progress Tuesday against a
    25,000-acre mountain blaze that devastated the vacation community
    of Summerhaven, north of Tucson. But after conducting a more
    detailed assessment of the damage, fire officials raised their
    estimate of the number of homes destroyed from more than 250 to
    more than 330.
    Dean Barnella, chief of the Mount Lemmon Fire District, said 133
    homes in the area were spared, but that the fate of many others was
    unknown. Before the fire the mountaintop had about 700 homes - most
    occupied by seasonal residents.
    Southeast of Summerhaven, crews held a line protecting up to 70
    cabins and homes, campgrounds and an observatory, said Larry
    Humphrey, commander of the team battling the blaze.
    The wildfire on 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon was 25 percent contained
    Tuesday. More than 1,200 firefighters and support personnel had
    been deployed.
    ---
    Associated Press writer Arthur H. Rotstein contributed to this
    story.
    ---
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    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A fire that burned more than 600 acres
    in the Rio Grande bosque in Albuquerque and forced about 1,000
    residents from their homes might have been sparked by fireworks,
    Mayor Martin Chavez said.
    "Every indication we have at this point is that this was caused
    by fireworks," he said Tuesday night.
    Chavez's family was among those who were evacuated. The
    residents were allowed to return home at around 10 p.m. Tuesday but
    were cautioned that they might have to leave again at a moment's
    notice because hot spots continued to burn.
    Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency Tuesday
    evening giving the city access to all state resources.
    A house under construction was destroyed and another home was
    damaged by the wind-driven blaze that burned salt cedar brush,
    cottonwood trees and other vegetation along the river.
    "This is the heart of the bosque in Albuquerque," Chavez said.
    "This is a real tragedy. Basically it is the worst bosque fire in
    living memory."
    Chavez issued an order closing the bosque to the public except
    for bike trails and levees.
    By late Tuesday, firefighters, with the help of water drops from
    a pair of helicopters, had gained the upper hand on the fire,
    Albuquerque Fire Chief Robert Ortega said.
    Firefighters were pulled from the fire Tuesday night because
    interior firefighting in the bosque at night is too dangerous,
    Ortega said. They were on standby and would return Wednesday.
    "We'll be here for two or three days trying to put this thing
    out," Ortega said. "It's still an active fire."
    Residents can expect to see spots of the fire flare up through
    Wednesday, Ortega said.
    No serious injuries were reported, although Ortega said one
    firefighter suffered a minor hand injury.
    The fire burned along the west side of the river, then jumped
    the river and at one point threatened homes on the east side, in an
    area of north Albuquerque where numerous high-priced homes are
    located.
    The fire also caused a power outage that temporarily left 16,000
    homes and businesses in the dark.
    The fire shut down Interstate 40 for several hours. The fire
    burned underneath the interstate, but apparently did not cause any
    damage to the overpass, said a spokesman for the state Highway and
    Transportation Department. The interstate reopened late Tuesday.
    Thick grayish-white smoke obscured the highway and red-hot
    embers floated into nearby neighborhoods.
    "You can see the flying embers, it's scary," said Liz
    Lardizabal, whose home is on the west side of the river. "The
    whole street in front of our house is solid with fire trucks."
    Lt. Gov. Diane Denish announced the state of emergency from the
    fire command center in Albuquerque while Richardson was en route.
    Richardson and Chavez returned Tuesday to New Mexico from a visit
    to Mexico.
    Albuquerque firefighters were joined by crews from nearby
    Bernalillo, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and the state Forestry
    Division.
    Two helicopters, one of them from the Army National Guard, made
    several water drops on the fire. Other aircraft were on standby, a
    guard spokesman said.
    Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., spoke with officials from the
    Federal Emergency Management Agency late Tuesday night and helped
    to secure federal funding for those who helped fight the fire.
    Wilson said FEMA will reimburse agencies for up to 75 percent of
    the costs of fire suppression through the Fire Management
    Assistance Grant.
    Former Mayor Jim Baca, whose home is in the area, said fires in
    the bosque have become a common occurrence in recent years.
    "In a drought like this, this is going to happen," Baca said.
    Millie McMahon and Kathleen DiLorenzo were among those who left
    their homes as the fire and smoke thickened.
    "We're concerned obviously that we might lose our home," said
    McMahon. "The flames were just on the other side of the our wall.
    The police let me go down and pick up a couple of things."
    DiLorenzo said her home is on a bluff that overlooks the river
    and did not appear to be in danger.
    "I never thought anything like this would occur," DiLorenzo
    said, adding that she was in the process of packing for a trip when
    the lights in her house went out.
    The fire in Albuquerque was the latest in a series to hit the
    state this week. Other blazes have charred hundreds of acres in New
    Mexico's mountains, which have been wilting under hot, windy
    weather.

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    Post June 25th

    By The Associated Press
    Gusty winds and high temperatures made for difficult
    firefighting efforts at several fires in New Mexico's mountains and
    the state's largest city.
    Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency Tuesday as a
    fire burned 701 acres in the Rio Grande bosque in Albuquerque.
    Albuquerque Fire Chief Robert Ortega said firefighters were
    mopping up hot spots Wednesday.
    Mayor Martin Chavez said it appeared the fire was sparked by
    fireworks.
    The 325-acre Virgin Fire burning in ponderosa pine trees three
    miles northwest of Jemez Springs in the Jemez Mountains was 75
    percent contained Tuesday evening, a fire information officer said
    Tuesday. Officials expected full containment Wednesday.
    The fire was caused by a small abandoned campfire northwest of
    Jemez Springs, Santa Fe National Forest spokeswoman Dolores Maese
    said.
    An attempt to extinguish the fire with dirt and water was not
    successful.
    About 200 firefighters were working to bolster lines around the
    blaze, which was first reported Sunday.
    The base camp for the fire was also moved late Tuesday night
    because three prairie dogs that were bleeding from the mouth and
    acting strange were spotted at the camp. Incident commander John
    Philbin decided to move the camp to avoid exposure to any possible
    disease. The state departments of health and game and fish were
    notified.
    The Monument Fire has burned at least 300 acres of mixed conifer
    trees on private land in the Turkey Mountains in northern New
    Mexico.
    Firefighters on Tuesday battled winds of 17 to 20 mph,
    temperatures in the high 80s and relative humidity of 9 percent in
    the area eight miles northeast of Fort Union National Monument in
    Mora County, fire information officer Mark Montoya said.
    The Monument Fire, started Saturday apparently by lightning, was
    about 15 percent contained, Montoya said.
    Ninety firefighters using two engines and two bulldozers were
    tackling the blaze, helped by two single-engine air tankers and a
    helicopter, which was dropping buckets of water on the flames,
    Montoya said.
    State Forestry spokesman John Harrison said crews in
    northeastern New Mexico were also battling the Melton Fire, which
    had burned 30 to 40 acres of private land southeast of Las Vegas,
    and the 50-arce Sarge Fire northeast of the Gonzales Ranch.
    The Barro and Sarge fires in the Santa Fe National Forest are
    being managed as a complex, Maese said Tuesday.
    The Barro Fire burned about 75 acres of ponderosa pine near
    Pecos. More than 50 firefighters were fighting the fire, which was
    30 percent contained Tuesday night.
    The Sarge Fire has burned 44 acres northwest of Villanueva State
    Park. More than 50 personnel are assigned to the fire. Dozer lines
    have been established around two-thirds of the fire.
    In the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico,
    officials continued to manage the lightning-sparked Dry Lake and
    the Moonshine fires, which are being used to clear down and dead
    forest fuel. The two fires have burned more than 21,500 acres since
    the end of May.
    Firefighters also were battling a number of lightning-sparked
    fires in the Gila, including the 3,000-acre Seco Fire in the Aldo
    Leopold Wilderness southwest of Chloride that has closed five
    trails, and the 3,500-acre Jenny Fire northwest of Chloride.
    It was too windy Tuesday for a burnout operation on the Seco
    Fire, fire information officers said.
    None of the New Mexico fires threatened any structures.

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    By PETE HERRERA
    Associated Press Writer
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Glowing orange flames rose from the
    banks of the Rio Grande for the second night in a row Wednesday in
    a suspected arson blaze that threatened dozens of homes and forced
    evacuations.
    Mayor Martin Chavez said the wind-driven blaze was not a
    flare-up of a fire that charred roughly 700 acres Tuesday in a
    riverside area about a mile south of Wednesday's blaze. He said
    arson was the likely cause of Wednesday's fire.
    "It has more than one point of origin which is suggestive of
    arson," Chavez said. No arrests were immediately made.
    The fierce flames and resulting thick smoke were visible in many
    parts of Albuquerque, a sprawling city of about 450,000. Ash fell
    in some areas.
    No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged. But
    hundreds of homes in the exclusive Dietz Farms area, an apartment
    complex and 200 homes in another subdivision were evacuated, Chavez
    said.
    "We have over 100 homes that are very severely compromised,"
    Chavez said of the homes in Dietz Farms.
    Officials were uncertain how many acres had burned or how many
    people had been evacuated. At least three evacuation centers were
    set up throughout the city. Some residents also were evacuating
    livestock.
    With the fire raging several hundred feet from her home, Jo
    Chestnut packed up family belongings, including jewelry, photos,
    rugs, lamps and a change of clothes. She headed to an evacuation
    center in the city's Old Town district while her husband stayed at
    home to try to evacuate their thoroughbred horse.
    "It is very overwhelming, the thought that someone may have
    started this on purpose is just frightening that there is that kind
    of evil," she said.
    Several roads were also closed and traffic was choked in parts
    of the city. All firefighters in the city were called into duty.
    Gov. Richardson was en route to the fire scene, said his
    spokesman, Pahl Shipley.
    Chavez, who had been in touch with Richardson earlier, said the
    "state is fully integrated" in the firefighting effort.
    Officials said one worry was that the fire could not be fought
    from above, as Tuesday's blaze was.
    "The real concern now is that there is no air support. You
    can't fly with the water at night and we're having to do it by
    hand," Chavez said.
    Chavez said firefighters would be working strictly on structure
    protection and would not be fighting the fire within the area near
    the river - the bosque - which contains salt cedar, cottonwood
    trees and other vegetation.
    The fire Tuesday was apparently caused by fireworks, Chavez
    said. It flared north from the Interstate 40 bridge over the Rio
    Grande. A house under construction was destroyed and another home
    was damaged by the wind-driven blaze that burned salt cedar,
    cottonwood trees and other vegetation along the river. No serious
    injuries were reported.
    Firefighters had spent Wednesday mopping up hot spots, Fire
    Chief Robert Ortega said.
    In response to the blaze, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
    District closed the bosque in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro and
    Valencia counties. The closure did not apply on Indian land, but
    otherwise no one was allowed into the area except for emergencies
    or official maintenance work.
    The closure was in effect until further notice, conservancy
    officials said Wednesday.
    The trails on levees on either side of the Rio Grande remain
    open for now, but people are not allowed to leave the trails to go
    into the bosque, they warned. Smoking is prohibited except inside
    closed vehicles or buildings.

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    Post June 26th

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A suspected arson wildfire raging about
    five miles northwest of downtown Thursday threatened homes, a
    school and a shopping center. Firefighters awaited the dawn to
    launch a "massive assault" on the ground and from the air.
    Several helicopters were readied to drop water on the blaze
    along the banks of the Rio Grande that started Wednesday night and
    had already consumed some 700 acres. Such air support missions are
    considered too risky in darkness.
    "Right now we're all waiting for the morning and praying that
    it comes faster," Gov. Bill Richardson said. "It will be a
    massive assault."
    All of Albuquerque's firefighters were called into duty.
    "As soon as the sun comes up we'll start sending them in,"
    said Lt. Lynn Reule. About 125 Albuquerque firefighters were on the
    line just after midnight Thursday; another 100 from outside
    agencies were poised to relieve them.
    Richardson also summoned various National Guard all-terrain
    vehicles and helicopters and requested federal help. Several roads
    were also closed and traffic was choked in parts of the city.
    Mayor Martin Chavez said evidence suggested the wind-driven
    blaze that broke out at about 8:30 p.m. was not merely a flare-up
    of a Tuesday fire that started about a mile to the south.
    "It has more than one point of origin which is suggestive of
    arson," Chavez said.
    No arrests were immediately made.
    The fierce flames and resulting thick smoke were visible in many
    parts of Albuquerque, a sprawling city of about 450,000. Ash fell
    in some areas.
    No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged. But
    hundreds of homes in an exclusive area and several other
    subdivisions and apartment complexes were evacuated.
    "We have over 100 homes that are very severely compromised,"
    Chavez said.
    Between 200 and 250 people were evacuated from the homes
    Wednesday night, Chavez said. Police officers rode through
    neighborhoods early Thursday and announced that residents must
    evacuate after a shift in the wind breathed new life into the fire.
    At least three evacuation centers were set up throughout the
    city. Some residents also were evacuating livestock to the New
    Mexico State Fairgrounds.
    With the fire raging several hundred feet from her home, Jo
    Chestnut packed up family belongings and headed for a shelter while
    her husband stayed behind to evacuate their thoroughbred horse.
    "It is very overwhelming; the thought that someone may have
    started this on purpose is just frightening that there is that kind
    of evil," she said.
    Chavez said firefighters would be working strictly on structure
    protection and would not be fighting the fire within the area near
    the river - the bosque - which contains salt cedar, cottonwood
    trees and other vegetation.
    The disadvantage Wednesday night was that the fire could not be
    fought from above. Water drops from helicopters were key in
    containing a fire that burned in the area Tuesday night.
    Tuesday's fire - which also burned about 700 acres in the bosque
    - was apparently caused by fireworks, Chavez said. It flared north
    from the Interstate 40 bridge over the Rio Grande. A house under
    construction was destroyed and another home was damaged; no serious
    injuries were reported.
    Meanwhile, crews in Tuscon, Ariz., were digging breaks on the
    crucial northern and southern fronts of a wildfire that destroyed
    about 345 buildings last week in a mountaintop vacation hamlet.
    For the first time since flames first roared toward the Mount
    Lemmon community of Summerhaven, firefighters battled the Aspen
    fire Wednesday without heavy winds.
    "Every day we have a good day, we get closer to being out of
    the woods," said Carrie Templin, a spokeswoman for he team
    battling the blaze.
    Gusts upward of 40 mph hampered firefighters almost since the
    fire began June 17 northeast of Tucson. Gusts hitting 60 mph helped
    drive the flames through Summerhaven June 19.
    The blaze has charred 30,200 acres, much of it pine forest, but
    is now 35 percent contained. The cause remained under
    investigation.
    ---
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    Post June 26th

    By PATRICIA L. GARCIA
    Associated Press Writer
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Evacuees returned to their homes along
    the Rio Grande on Thursday as firefighters tried to stamp out the
    remnants of a smoldering blaze that transformed a riverside forest
    into a patchwork of black and gray.
    "There will be pockets of fuel that could flare up," said
    Perry Jewett, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter from Black Hills,
    S.D., called in to tackle the suspected arson fire that was sparked
    Wednesday night and scorched 165 acres.
    About 200 firefighters were on the scene as two National Guard
    helicopters dumped massive buckets of water on the remnants of the
    blaze, which was 50 percent contained Thursday morning.
    A federal fire management team arrived Thursday to help.
    Incident commander Tim Sexton said his team will work with city
    firefighters and other agencies to make sure the fire doesn't flare
    up and that the public understands the danger of having such a
    large wildland area within the city.
    "The fire situation is extreme," Sexton said. "There's a
    potential for an accidental ignition to grow very quickly."
    The fire forced about 200 people to abandon their homes, many in
    fancy subdivisions in Albuquerque's north valley. They began
    returning Thursday after spending the night in hotels or at the
    homes of friends and relatives.
    "The sky was just orange," said Marlene Roberts, who with her
    husband David, fled their home after he placed garden sprinklers on
    the roof.
    "We could see these huge flames, and then you'd see just huge
    fireballs and these loud explosions. It was so eerie; both
    fascinating and terrifying at the same time," she said Thursday
    morning after she returned home.
    The fire was the second one in the Rio Grande bosque in as many
    days.
    The first fire, just to the south of the second, burned 350
    acres after it was started Tuesday. It was 75 percent contained
    Thursday.
    Investigators were looking for an adult who might have been
    responsible for the second fire and for two juveniles who might
    have been touching off fireworks that sparked the first fire, Mayor
    Martin Chavez said.
    Gov. Bill Richardson on Thursday ordered a 19-mile stretch of
    the parched bosque in Albuquerque closed through July 4. The area
    is bounded by Sandia Pueblo on the north and Isleta Pueblo on the
    south.
    The bosque - popular with bicyclists, joggers, walkers, birders
    and nature lovers - is laced with trails and features a paved path
    for cyclists and inline skaters.
    "We have hundreds of daily users," said Jay Hart,
    superintendent of the Albuquerque Open Spaces Division.
    The city's open space rangers and other law enforcement officers
    will "be doing their best to keep people out of the area," he
    said.
    The New Mexico National Guard deployed 120 soldiers and airmen
    to help ensure the safety of the public, said Brig. Gen. Kenny
    Montoya, the Guard's commanding officer.
    The bosque features cottonwood trees as well as nonnative
    Russian olive trees and salt cedar brush - both heavy users of
    valuable ground water. Salt cedar also is a notorious fuel.
    Chavez said he is looking at strategies for ensuring the
    bosque's recovery.
    "The short term, of course, is we need to make sure we don't
    have a repeat over the next few days," he said. Long-term
    strategies include more aggressive clearing of nonnative and dead
    vegetation, Chavez said.
    Elsewhere in the West, firefighters in Arizona got hand from the
    weather Thursday as they continued cutting fire line around a blaze
    that devastated the mountaintop community of Summerhaven, near
    Tucson.
    Calmer winds and higher humidity made it easier on crews
    building and strengthening firebreaks around the 30,000-acre fire,
    which burned about 345 buildings on Mount Lemmon. The fire was
    listed as 35 percent contained.
    In Alaska, two large Interior wildfires also were slowed by good
    weather. The Sand Creek Fire near the Goodpaster River southeast of
    Fairbanks grew to 41,000 acres Wednesday, but showed little
    movement toward wilderness cabins. The Erickson Creek Fire, now at
    91,000 acres, continued to cause poor visibility on the Dalton
    Highway to Prudhoe Bay, but was not being aggressively fought.
    The National Interagency Fire Center reported Thursday that
    wildland fires were burning on some 653,000 acres nationally,
    compared to 1.19 million acres on average. On this day last year,
    2.6 million acres were burning.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  25. #25
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    Exclamation Three in custody. Charges to follow!

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Three people have been arrested in
    connection with at least one of the wildfires that forced
    evacuations and prompted massive firefighting efforts as they
    burned along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque this week.
    "Three individuals are in custody," Mayor Martin Chavez
    announced late Thursday night. "Charges to follow."
    Chavez said investigators feel confident they've got "at least
    one of the fires resolved in that regard." Investigators have not
    linked the fires, which burned about a mile apart, but have not
    ruled out a connection, he said.
    Chavez said earlier that investigators were looking for two
    juveniles who might have set off fireworks that sparked the first
    fire, and for an adult who may have been responsible for the second
    blaze.
    In Arizona, investigators said Thursday night that a wildfire
    that devastated a mountaintop community near Tuscon was likely
    human-caused.
    Albuquerque residents returned to their homes along the Rio
    Grande on Thursday as firefighters tried to stamp out the remnants
    of a smoldering blaze that transformed a riverside forest into a
    patchwork of black and gray.
    The suspected arson fire began Wednesday night and scorched
    about 165 acres. About 200 people were forced to abandon their
    homes and spent the night in hotels or the homes of friends and
    relatives.
    Marlene Roberts fled her home with her husband, David, after he
    placed garden sprinklers on the roof.
    "We could see these huge flames, and then you'd see just huge
    fireballs and these loud explosions. It was so eerie, both
    fascinating and terrifying at the same time," she said.
    About 200 firefighters were on the scene Thursday as two
    National Guard helicopters dumped massive buckets of water on
    remnants of the blaze. Crews also quelled a flare-up during the
    afternoon.
    The fire was the second in the Rio Grande area in as many days.
    The first, just to the south of the second, burned about 350 acres
    after it was started Tuesday. It was 75 percent contained Thursday,
    fire officials said.
    Gov. Bill Richardson on Thursday ordered a 19-mile stretch of
    the heavily wooded Rio Grande region closed through July 4.
    The forested area - popular with bicyclists, joggers, walkers,
    birders and nature lovers - is laced with trails and features a
    paved path for cyclists and inline skaters.
    The New Mexico National Guard deployed 120 soldiers and airmen
    to help ensure the safety of the public, said Brig. Gen. Kenny
    Montoya, the Guard's commanding officer.
    Meanwhile, firefighters outside Tucson, Ariz., got help from the
    weather for a second day Thursday as they made progress on
    containing a wildfire that devastated a mountaintop community.
    Calmer wind and higher humidity made it easier on crews building
    and strengthening firebreaks around the blaze, which burned about
    345 buildings in and around Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon.
    The fire began June 17 on the 9,157-foot peak northeast of
    Tucson. Driven by wind, flames roared through Summerhaven on the
    southern side of the mountain on June 19 and continued burning
    across the top of Mount Lemmon and down the north side.
    The blaze has charred more than 30,000 acres, much of it pine
    forest, but is now 50 percent contained.
    Investigators said late Thursday they believe the fire was
    human-caused because they had ruled out the possibility that
    lightning or other natural factors sparked it.
    "We have people we're interested in talking to," said David
    Conto, a fire investigator for the Pima County Sheriff's
    Department. "I wouldn't classify them as suspects yet."
    The blaze was believed to have started near a trail southwest of
    Summerhaven.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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