Firefighters Begin to Contain New Mexico Blazes

Wildfires have scorched thousands of acres across desert land and high-country timber in New Mexico, but firefighters are making progress as the windy conditions that hampered earlier efforts subsided.

One of the largest fires — 5,500 acres burning in grass and some ponderosa pine in Mora County near N.M. 442 — was started by lightning Monday night and whipped by winds. By Tuesday, the threat to several structures was over and by Wednesday, the Cerro Fire was 90 percent contained, said state Forestry Division spokesman Dan Ware.

Conditions improved through the evening and fire activity was light, Ware said late Tuesday.

Fire officials initially estimated the blaze at 10,000 acres, but Ware said that estimate was revised thanks to more accurate mapping.

The Adobe Fire southeast of Animas in New Mexico's bootheel has burned about 8,000 acres of heavy grass and brush. The west side of the fire was burning up the slope of Animas Mountain, but Ware said mild weather allowed firefighters to conduct burnout operations to keep the flames in check.

The lightning-caused blaze was 40 percent contained. No structures were threatened, Ware said.

The 124-acre Capulin Fire in rugged Bandelier National Monument was contained Tuesday, and crews were mopping up the last hot spots, fire information officers said. That blaze burned pinyon, juniper and ponderosa pine trees along with grass, and the remoteness of the area forced hand crews to battle the blaze.

Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire, which was kindled Sunday.

Two lightning-caused fires were burning mixed conifer and ponderosa pine trees on media mogul Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch in northeastern New Mexico. The Brilliant 2 Fire, west of Raton, burned 300 acres and the nearby Chimney Fire scorched about 100 acres, Ware said.

Crews assigned to the Brilliant 2 Fire cleared lines and conducted burnout operations to protect electricity lines feeding Raton and a subdivision on the community's edge. The fire was 60 percent contained, Ware said.

The Chimney Fire was about 30 percent contained, he said.

In west-central New Mexico, the lightning-sparked Garley Fire burned 115 acres on the southeastern flank of Mount Taylor. The fire was listed as 90 percent contained Tuesday, and fire crews were doing mop-up work.

Lightning strikes Sunday started more than a dozen grass fires that burned more than 24,000 acres in Roosevelt County in east-central New Mexico, firefighters said. No injuries were reported, and no structures were damaged.

Three large fires burned near Elida, said the town's fire chief, Adam Anthony. The largest, 15 to 20 miles northwest of Elida, charred 11,000 acres. It was contained after nearly 12 hours, he said.