Firefighters use burnouts to corral NM fires

June 7, 2012 • State News

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell talks about the recent deadly crash of an air tanker that was helping fight a wildfire in Utah, during a news conference at the agency’s Southwest regional headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Tidwell also took an aerial tour of the 404-square-mile Whitewater Baldy fire [auth] burning in southwestern New Mexico, currently the largest blaze in the country. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters working in different parts of New Mexico are using similar tactics to corral two lightning-sparked wildfires.

Crews contained more than 20 percent of the massive Whitewater-Baldy fire in southwestern New Mexico by Wednesday. The blaze has charred about 412 square miles of the Gila National Forest.

Firefighters are building lines and mopping up after burnout operations along the fire’s perimeter. On the southern flank, they finished prepping cabins for potential fire movement.

In northern New Mexico, fire managers say burnout operations are helping with the Bear Springs fire.

That blaze has burned about 580 acres. Forest officials say cultural and historic structures on the southern edge of the Jemez Mountains are considered threatened.

Crews are also battling the 320-acre Colorado Peak fire southwest of Santa Fe. It was sending up a large plume of smoke Wednesday evening.

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