ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A wildfire in southern New Mexico has grown by nearly 40 square miles over the past two days.
Crews fighting the Silver fire in the Gila National Forest hope that thunderstorms forecast for Sunday will bring relief.
The blaze had reached 196 square miles by Sunday morning. It was 45 percent contained.
Crews were focusing Sunday on protecting seven Cooney Canyon homes on the fire 217;s western flank. The blaze was more than 2 miles from the residences.
The homes have been vacated by their owners, though no official evacuation order has been given.
The lightning-sparked fire also was burning northward into wilderness.
A light rain provided some relief Saturday by raising humidity levels, but fire information officer Diane Souder says crews were hoping that storms forecast for Sunday would bring a rain that dampen the area.
Winds are expected to push smoke over Mimbers Valley and surrounding communities.
Officials are making plans to collect the threatened Gila trout from a watershed that’s affected by ash and charred debris from the fire. The aim is to collect the trout and reintroduce them into the environmental.
To the north, crews fighting the Jaroso fire benefited from rain, cloud cover and high humidity over the past two days.
The fire burning in rugged canyons in the Pecos Wilderness had grown by only 20 acres between Saturday morning and Sunday morning.
Fire information officer Peter D’Aquanni said Sunday the fire wasn’t being pushed by winds. The day’s forecast called for a solid chance of rain.
The blaze was within 3 miles of homes, but it hadn’t moved closer to them, and crews were building protection lines between the fire line and the homes.
Winds were expected to be lighter Sunday.
No portion of the Jaroso fire was contained.