Gila Fires Grow Over Weekend

Gila Fires Grow Over Weekend

8 June 2009

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USA — A fourth fire located about 6 miles north of Mimbres, N.M. and just west of State Highway 35, is believed to be human-caused but is still under investigation, Gila forest officials said. The Soldier Fire was detected Sunday afternoon and brought under control at 5 acres by mid-afternoon Sunday.

The largest lightning-caused fire, the Diamond Fire, is located 45 miles north of Silver City, N.M. in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness area of the Wilderness Ranger District. The fire was more accurately mapped on Saturday with a GPS and has burned about 4,339 acres, said Gila forest officials. The fire is burning through grass, piñon juniper, and ponderosa pines, showing low to moderate activity Monday. Officials said the fire was more active over the weekend due to high winds. Air tankers and helicopters are being used to work the fire. Officials expect the fire to grow as the weather in the area becomes hotter and drier.

The Meason Fire, also in the Wilderness Ranger District, is located 35 miles north of Silver City. Its estimated size is 1,596 acres, and is also showing low to moderate activity Monday. Gila forest officials said the fire is moving along the ground and is burning mainly grass, though it is also consuming some piñon juniper and Ponderosa pine as well. Helicopters and air tankers assisted over the weekend as increased wind encouraged growth and spread of the fire, Gila forest officials said.

Gila forest officials said Monday the Meason Fire is spreading in most directions, with the fire crossing to Hodge Canyon on the eastern perimeter. Forest Road 150 may be closed for public and firefighter safety.

The Willow Fire is in the Reserve Ranger District and is located 14 miles northeast of Reserve, N.M. and 8 miles southeast of Apache Creek, N.M. Gila forest officials now estimate its size to be about 4000 acres and said the blaze continues to show low to moderate activity. On Saturday morning, high winds contributed to additional spread of the fire and firefighters spotted the occasional torching of trees. Officials said the Willow Fire is expected to move east toward Cottonwood Canyon and Long Canyon.

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