GLENWOOD, N.M. – Crews fighting a wildfire in the Gila National Forest benefited from lighter winds Sunday, allowing them to focus on building protection lines on key flanks of the blaze and preparing to send water-dropping helicopters for the first time in days.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire continued to grow, burning more than 122,000 acres, or 191 square miles, by midday Sunday. It was about two miles from the privately owned ghost town of Mogollon in southwestern New Mexico.
The town was evacuated Saturday because of extreme winds, but no homes there have been destroyed.
Denise Ottaviano, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the blaze, said the fire remained active near Mogollon, but the blaze hadn’t made a significant push toward the town. Crews were working to build a protection line between Mogollon and the fire’s western edge.
The blaze destroyed a dozen homes and several outbuildings Wednesday in the community of Willow Creek, which remained under evacuation.
On Sunday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez authorized the deployment of 15 National Guard soldiers to help secure areas around the fire.
Meanwhile, crews were preparing to send five helicopters to focus on the blaze’s hot spots.
None of the fire had been contained. Despite tamer winds, crews were contending with extremely dry conditions.
In western Colorado, gusty winds have spread two wildfires that have burned more than 7,000 acres and prompted the evacuation of several campgrounds.
Crews were battling a wildfire that has scorched at least 5,000 acres of rugged canyon land north of Paradox near the Colorado-Utah border.
Meanwhile, winds of more than 60 mph fueled a 2,325-acre fire northwest of Pagosa Springs, and several campgrounds in the area have been evacuated.
In California, ground crews with air support were surrounding a stubborn wildfire that has burned through 4,100 acres of grass and brush in rural San Diego County.
CalFire spokeswoman Roxanne Provaznik said the blaze near Shelter Valley is burning away from the town of Julian in steep, rocky terrain. It was 65 percent contained Sunday. No structures were threatened.