Rain helps tamp down Silver Fire, now 60 percent contained
SILVER CITY, Jul 05, 2013 (Las Cruces Sun-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The beginning of monsoon season seemed to arrive Wednesday night helping to further tamp down the Silver Fire, which is now more than 60 percent contained and is not expected to grow beyond the current perimeter in the short term, fire officials reported Thursday.
The fire was reported to be 216 square miles -- 138,540 acres -- with fire activity low to moderate after light rain fell on the fire on Wednesday. Officials said they expect isolated pockets of burning in the interior, and creeping and smoldering. Crews are still in full suppression mode, and have increased containment lines in the east to the Middle Seco Canyon area, and to the west in the Rabb Park area and have been chipping in several areas, including along Forest Road 150 and Highway 152, which is now fully open.
A smaller Type 2 team arrived at incident command on Thursday to begin taking over from the Type 3 team, and will take command of the fire today. The number of personnel assigned to the fire has decreased to less than 500 firefighters. Crews are monitoring the fire by air and ground and rehab and mop-up work will be ongoing.
While fire danger on the Gila National Forest has gone from high down to moderate because of the recent rains and cooler temperatures, Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in effect, meaning campfires are only allowed in designated developed campgrounds and picnic areas, and must be in a Forest Service-provided grill or fire pit. Fires in rock
rings will not be allowed. The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices are acceptable, provided they meet the fire underwriter's specifications for safety. Smoking is limited to a vehicle, building,or three-foot area cleared of all flammable materials.
While the thunderstorms have helped to nearly put a lid on the Silver Fire and brought cooler temperatures and relief from the smoke to Silver City area residents, lightning from those storms has also sparked several new fires in the forest.
Seven new fires were reported Thursday, but all were less than a quarter-acre in size. Since July 1, 14 new fires have been sparked by lightning. Five have been contained, two have been undetected since they were first called in, and fire personnel are suppressing those still visible from Wednesday's starts, and locating new starts on Thursday. The concentration of new fires were in the area south and east of Eagle Peak Lookout. Forty-five personnel are locating and staffing the reported fires.
Southfork Campgrounds are temporarily closed due to potential flash flooding. Apache Creek, Dipping Vat and Aeroplane Mesa campgrounds remain open.
For road information, go to www.nmroads.com. An emergency closure remains in effect for a small portion of the Gila National Forest in the vicinity of the fire area. Campgrounds and trails along Highway 152 remain closed but Emory Pass Vista is open. The Aldo Leopold Wilderness area remains closed. For information about the area of the fire closure, go to www.fs.usda.gov/gila.
All communities near the fire remain open, including the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The majority of the Gila National Forest is open.
For information on restrictions, go to firerestrictions.us.
Anyone looking for information on the Yarnell Fire in Prescott, Ariz., where 19 firefighters died, can contact Mike Reichling at the Arizona State Forestry Division at 928-427-3347 or Carrie Dennett at 602-399-3078.
Christine Steele can be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5802.
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