SANTA FE, N.M. – A wildfire burning in the New Mexico mountains, where in 1950 a bear cub named “Smokey” was found, has burned about 8,000 acres fire officials said on Monday.
The Peppin Fire in the Lincoln National Forest in the south-central part of the state was thought to be contained over the weekend, before dry conditions and strong winds helped to reignite it, said fire information officer Gwen Shaffer.
“There is no containment at this time — at all,” Shaffer said. The fire was ignited by lightning on May 15 and the harsh terrain made it difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze, she added.
Two-dozen homes were evacuated on Sunday night, and portions of several roads have been closed. Aircraft were dropping chemicals to try to slow the fire, Shaffer said.
The Peppin Fire is the first large-scale fire of the season, she said.
Smokey the Bear, then a badly singed cub, was rescued by firefighters on May 9, 1950. He was nursed back to health and became a symbol of forest fire prevention.
A second blaze, the Lookout Fire, in central New Mexico, had consumed 4,600 acres and was 40 percent contained on Monday, fire officials said.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was monitoring both fires and offered state funds and resources, including two helicopters, officials said.