New Mexico Wildfires Burn 700 Acres North of Taos

Calmer wind, lower temperatures and high humidity during the night helped firefighters battle a mountain wildfire that had burned to within a half mile of Taos Pueblo and forced campers to evacuate.

The fire, which officials suspect was started by lightning, had burned about 700 acres north of the resort town of Taos by Saturday.

"We did a lot of good work last night," Carson National Forest fire information officer Ignacio Peralta said Saturday.

Peralta said crews started building fire breaks on the south and west sides of the blaze, but he did not have an estimate of containment.

No homes were threatened by the fire early Saturday.

On Friday, campers were evacuated from two canyons on the east slope of Rancho Canyon Peak as the flames raced through the mountain terrain.

The wildfire, which Peralta said produced "80- to 100-foot flame waves," was south and east of Wheeler Peak, the state's highest mountain at 13,161 feet.

Outside Tucson, Ariz., firefighters were back on Mount Lemmon, where they lit controlled burns to protect dozens of homes, camps and an array of telescopes and antennas as gusty wind fanned a two-week-old wildfire that had already destroyed 300 mountaintop homes. The controlled burns were set to remove dry brush that could fuel the fire's spread.

The blaze was a mile away from the hamlet of Willow Canyon by late Friday.

With strong wind forecast again for Saturday, the areas were still considered threatened, said Dan Oltrogge, a fire official.

In Southern California, firefighters subdued a quick-moving wildfire Friday night after it burned 1,500 acres of brush in Riverside County.

No buildings were damaged but 25 to 30 homes were evacuated as a precaution until the fire was contained, said Jane Scribner, spokeswoman for the Riverside County Fire Department.

The fire started in an area of thick grass and dirt roads. Temperatures in the area reached 97 degrees.