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NM fire forces evacuations

More than 50 homes remained evacuated Tuesday as a wildfire burned nearby.

BY HEATHER MOYER | EL RITO, N.M. | September 20, 2005

More than 50 homes remained evacuated Tuesday as a wildfire burned nearby.

The Pine Canyon Complex wildfire has burned close to 2,900 acres since its start on Saturday. High winds and dry weather contributed to its rapid spread Sunday afternoon, which then prompted the evacuations in the town of El Rito. El Rito is a community of more than 1,100 people near the Colorado border.

Joan Hellen, fire information officer for the Pine Canyon Wildfire Complex, said Monday's weather helped firefighters get the blaze more under control.

"We had higher humidity rates and lower temperatures," she said. "But Tuesday's weather might be different, there's a chance of more winds and possible lightning activity."

She said the blaze is 10% contained at this point and that firefighters remain optimistic about having it fully contained near the week's end. No structures have been lost yet.

In the meantime, the evacuation remains in effect and residents are staying a a civic-center-turned-shelter about 12 miles from El Rito.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires have burned more than 8 million acres across the country in 2005 so far.

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