95% contained; $5.5M to fight

July 10, 2011 • Local News

Fire authorities said on Saturday that out-of-town fire crews and support teams are preparing to go home after nearly two weeks of battling Lincoln County’s Donaldson Fire, the state’s second largest fire on record, that is now 95 percent contained.

Fire crews from Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, Alaska, Michigan, and other states, will demobilize this afternoon, as will the Pecos Zone Type III Interagency Incident Management Team that has provided supplies, personnel, planning and information since the lightning sparked wildfire began June 28.

“We’ll all be gone and out of [auth] here by tomorrow,” Jennifer Myslivy, a fire spokeswoman with the Pecos Zone team, said Saturday.

Local fire crews will continue to monitor and patrol the fire that remains well within the steep rugged interior about six miles south of Hondo, far from any residences or structures, until wetting rain comes.

“They’ll just kind of continue patrolling, and if smokes pop up, they’ll put them out and make sure everything’s in check,” Myslivy said. The blaze, which has charred more than 101,000 acres and burned nine structures, including one primary residence, was 95 percent contained as of Thursday night.

Crews have since been battling spot fires and isolated torching, as well as working to prevent erosion from summer rains and repairing any damage from fire and suppression activities. Seed was recently planted on land damaged by dozers and excavators, and fences that were cut to allow fire equipment to pass have been mended.

The total cost of the fire, as of Friday evening, was $5.5 million, Myslivy said. That cost includes the cost of labor, contracts, food and shower units, supplies and aviation and air tanker costs. The public may still see smoke plumes in the upcoming days because of large unburned islands within the fire perimeter, Myslivy said, but should not worry.

Smoke will likely lessen once rain comes with the monsoon season, she said, adding that a moistening trend is predicted to hit the Southwest by the end of the weekend. “It’ll look like it’s probably right in your backyard, but it’s really not,” she said. “And people are monitoring it.”

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