Firefighters finally make headway – thanks to rain and lower temps

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Despite persistently treacherous conditions, including heavy smoke and cloud cover, fire fighters made headway on containment of the Silver Fire on Friday, increasing the containment from 20 percent – where it has been for about five days – to 35 percent by Saturday morning. Rain showers and cooler temperatures helped firefighters gain another 10 percent on Saturday, so the fire is now 45 percent contained. The Silver Fire started on June 7 near Kingston, due to lightning. The fire has recently been turned over to the New Mexico Incident Management Team, with John Pierson as commander.

Fire activity was moderate with light precipitation over some of the fire area on Friday afternoon and early Saturday. The fire was actively backing down the western perimeter. On the west side the, fire is burning into piñon and juniper where it is going out. This after extreme fire activity to the north and northwest on Friday, causing a smoke plume to reach 39,000 feet in the air early in the day. Fire crews continued work on containing spot fires to the west side of the fire within the Rabb Park Trail area. The infrared flight last night could not determine the exact size of the growth due to heavy smoke and cloud cover

One large spot fire on the west side of the fire in Quaking Aspen Canyon continued to grow. Crews actively worked to suppress that spot fire. Helicopters were not utilized due to extreme fire behavior and heavy smoke on Friday.

Burnout operations may be utilized on the west and northwest side of the fire on Sunday if conditions warrant, helping reduce the fire’s intensity. If the burnout operation is initiated, there may be an increase in smoke. The south and east sides of the fire will continue to be monitored by air.

The Incident Management Team has a land use agreement with the State to utilize their allotment of water from Bear Canyon Lake for water drops. The Team is keeping close records of how much water they are taking out of the Lake to make sure they stay within the terms of the agreement.

The Gila National Forest will be coordinating a retrieval of Gila Trout from South Diamond Creek as a precautionary measure.

Smoke: Variable winds are expected near the Silver Fire. Communities of Mimbers Valley and surrounding areas can expect smoke from the Silver Fire intermittently at different times of the day as the winds shifts directions. Additional smoke may be visible along the north and northwest part of the fire if the burnout operations are initiated. For information about health effects of smoke, including actions individuals can take to protect themselves, and guidance on distances and visibility based on location of current fires, please visit https://nmtracking.org/fire.

Moisture is starting to move into the area bringing more cloud cover, slightly lower temperatures, an increase in relative humidity, and light winds. There is also a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms on the Black Range that may bring dry lightning.

Open Areas: Silver City, Hillsboro, and Winston remain open. Businesses along NM State Highways 15 and 35 remain open, all the way to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The majority of the Gila National Forest is open for recreational opportunities with Stage 1 fire restrictions in effect. For more information on restrictions, go to firerestrictions.us. There is an emergency closure on the Forest for the fire area. For more information about the fire closure go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila

Road Closure: NM Highway 152 is closed from Kingston to San Lorenzo. For additional information go to www.nmroads.com, www.facebook.com/SilverFireNM, www.flickr.com/gilaforest, or     www.twitter.com/SilverFireNM