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N.M wildfires grow to 82,000 acres

Winds are expected to continue hindering firefighters

ALBUQUERQUE | May 26, 2012

The Whitewater-Baldy wildfire in southwestern New Mexico has grown to 82,252 acres, burning 12 cabins and 13 outbuildings in a subdivision, authorities said.

The fire, which was zero percent contained, led to a voluntary evacuation of the town of Mogollon, N.M., KOAT-TV, Albuquerque, reported Saturday.

Winds were expected to continue hindering firefighters battling the blaze Saturday and Sunday.

What had been separate wildfires -- the Whitewater and Baldy fires -- merged into one fire Wednesday.

More than 600 fire personnel were camped out but authorities said it could take a few more days to get the blaze under control.

Meanwhile, a brush fire near Disney World led to the closing of a major central Florida highway for more than two hours Friday.

CNN reported flames as high as 6 feet near Interstate 4 and white and gray smoke could be seen over and around the highway much of the afternoon at the beginning of the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said eastbound lanes of the highway were shut down by 3 p.m. around Osceola Parkway and troopers closed westbound lanes soon after.

The highway reopened in both directions by 5:30 p.m., Montes said.

Another fire prompted the evacuation of a vacation trailer park for about three hours Friday in Southern California, authorities said.

Sheriff's deputies helped 50 occupants and two horses get out of the Stagecoach Trails RV Resort about 1 p.m. as the Banner fire burned in the Anza-Borrego Desert, U-T San Diego reported.

The occupants were allowed to return about 6 p.m.

About 500 firefighters were battling the Banner fire, which was expected to burn throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

The fire began at 2:15 p.m. Thursday on private land near the base of the Banner Grade, which connects the mountains east of Julian to the desert floor, Cal Fire Capt. Daryll Pina said.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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