Fires Burning in Albuquerque, New Mexico Area

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) -- Firefighters in central New Mexico had their hands full Thursday evening as flames were being pushed through the wooded area along the Rio Grande near Bernalillo because of strong winds.

The fire along the west side of the river was spotted around 5 p.m. About 300 customers in the area were without power but authorities were not certain what sparked the blaze, according to Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo.

The sheriff said the fire had burned about 20 acres and was being fueled by the changing wind.

''The winds are a controlling factor in how to fight the fire because it kind of gears up and then slows down,'' he said.

Trujillo said no homes were immediately threatened and authorities hoped pumper trucks would be able to slow down the flames.

On the southern end of Albuquerque, firefighters on Kirtland Air Force Base were battling a grass fire that started Thursday evening near the base of the Manzano Mountains.

Base spokeswoman Lt. Rose Richardson described it as a ''small brush fire that's spreading quickly because of the winds.'' She said the base's golf course and horse stable area were evacuated but she was not sure how many animals were housed at the stable.

Wind gusts in the Albuquerque area neared 40 mph Thursday as a thunderstorm made its way over the area.

Dan Ware, a spokesman for the state Forestry Division, said state crews were monitoring the fire near Bernalillo. He said it was burning into an area along the river that had been charred about three years ago and has been cleared of salt cedar trees and other nonnative vegetation.

''There are some pretty good flames but the fire isn't growing that much. It's running out of things to burn,'' he said.