Fires up, floods cause concern

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In spite of 18 new fires reported in the Gila National Forest over the weekend, the U.S. Forest Service lifted Stage 1 fire restrictions starting July 9 at 6 a.m.

Rain and thunderstorms have hampered rehabilitation efforts across the burn scar of the Silver Fire in the Gila National Forest, according to U.S. Forest Service officials. Crews are reinforcing hand line and dozer line barriers, and mopping up around structures, as it is safe to do so.

The Silver Fire started June 7 due to lightning, and has burned an estimated 138,546 acres. The fire is now 80 percent contained, and is down to 62 personnel assigned to it. The only fire behavior observed in the last few days was creeping, smoldering with isolated interior single tree torching. The biggest concern now is flooding due to the rains received during the last several days.

Grant County Emergency personnel are sponsoring a public meeting on July 10 at 6 p.m. at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo to inform area residents near the Silver Fire of the flooding potential.

Over the weekend 18 fires were reported on the forest. Fire personnel continue to locate and suppress the new starts.

Forest Road 150 is open, and high clearance vehicles are recommended. New Mexico Highway 152 is also open. Safety is still a concern and drivers should be alert for domestic livestock, wildlife, rocks, fallen trees and debris along the road. Forest Closures: state Road 159 (Bursum Road) is closed due to flooding. 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. Recreation sites along Highway 152 remain closed and the entire Aldo Leopold Wilderness area is also closed. For more information about the area of the fire closure go to www.fs.usda.gov/gila.

Contact Sharma Hutchinson, 575-533-6231, for further information.