Pecos Wilderness Trails Closed, Silver Fire Now 19 Miles Burned
UPDATE 6/13 1p: Officials on the Carson National Forest have decided to close trails in the Camino Real Ranger District that access the Pecos Wilderness.
The decision stems from a wildfire burning in the wilderness. The Jaroso Fire has charred an estimated 5 square miles and is sending up quite a bit of smoke as it runs through acres of dead and downed trees.
Forest officials say the closure order includes the Trampas, San Leoandro, Santa Barbara and the Ripley Point trails.
The entire Pecos Wilderness has been closed on both the Santa Fe and Carson forests.
Officials say the unprecedented fire behavior of the Jaroso Fire, the dry conditions and heavy fuel loads has contributed to the extreme fire danger in the area.
Those who violate the closure order could face stiff fines or prison time.
The Silver fire continues to grow in southern New Mexico, now having burned 29 square miles in the Gila National Forest west of Hillsboro.
Meanwhile, the number of firefighters and support personnel assigned to the lightning-caused fire has grown 478.
Firefighters are trying to protect structures such as the small village of Kingston. The fire has gotten as close as a quarter-mile to the old mining town whose 45 or so residents already have evacuated..
Fire management team spokesman Dave Shell says firefighters also are building a line on the fire's north side and working to keep the fire from leaving the national forest.
The fire started June 7. It's burning in an extremely rugged mountainous area of dense forest where there hadn't been a fire for 100 years.
Fire crews have mostly contained the largest of this year’s wildfires so far. The Thompson Ridge fire has burned more than 32 square miles since igniting two weeks ago. But the Jaroso and Silver fires are still burning uncontained, thanks to unfavorable weather conditions and an abundance of dry, unburned fuel in the area.
Governor Susana Martinez has vowed to provide the necessary resources for the 2013 fire season. In a press conference today, she thanked the firefighters struggling to contain the new blazes and mop up the others. "Since our large fires began at the end of May, we have done what it takes to make sure that enough resource are available to fight fires this summer. There are currently 2,061 men and women assigned to the fires. More resources are available and more will be ordered should that be necessary."
In southwestern New Mexico, fire crews have so far been able to keep the Silver Fire from reaching the small mining town of Kingston, whose residents have already been evacuated. The wildfire has burned more than 17 square miles up to a quarter mile from the town.
Meanwhile, the Jaroso Fire, burning in a remote area of the Santa Fe National Forest is not threatening any structures; however it continues to grow rapidly, and has now scorched more than 12 square miles. Because of rugged terrain and dangerous conditions, fire crews are mostly attacking the blaze from the air.
The lightning caused fires started over the weekend. So far, no injuries have been reported.