Firefighters face heat, dry conditions

Warm temps, gusty winds hamper firefighter's efforts

DENVER | June 19, 2012

Firefighters in northern Colorado and New Mexico can expect to battle warm temperatures and gusty winds Tuesday as they wrangle the blazes, meteorologists said.

More than 1,700 firefighters are battling the blaze that had consumed more than 58,700 acres by Monday evening and was about 50 percent contained, CNN reported.

The National Weather Service forecast for Tuesday is similar to Monday, which saw high heat and winds whisk the blaze. Firefighters said conditions should be better than Sunday, which one described as "tough."

"The expected winds were not as strong as they were [Sunday]. The amount of fire activity in the big timber on the western perimeter was not as extreme," Brett Habestick, fire information officer, told KCNC-TV, Denver. "So therefore we have a lot less smoke and a lot better working conditions for the crews."

The wildfire was started by lightning June 9. So far it has been responsible for the death of one person, the destruction of 189 homes and the evacuation of thousands of people, official said

Firefighters have expressed concern the fire could shift toward a stand of trees killed by beetle infestations.

Elsewhere in Colorado, a fire near Pagosa Springs that broke out last month had grown to more than 13,000 acres by Monday night and was about 30 percent contained.

About 200 acres near Pueblo have burned so far, forcing some residents to be evacuated, CNN said

Similar high temperatures, gusty winds and dry conditions were expected in New Mexico Tuesday.

The Tonto National Forest has several fires burning, including the Sunflower fire, which has consumed more than 17,618 acres, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic reported. It hasn't grown in more than a week and has been about 80 percent contained since May 30.

David Albo, a Tonto National Forest spokesman, said a DC-10 airtanker and helicopters were being used to help contain the Sixshooter fire, which started Sunday afternoon and burned two acres about 7 miles southwest of Globe.

Other Tonto fires are:

-- The Poco Fire, which about 15 percent contained and has scorched 3,200 acres 6 miles from Young.

-- The 257 Fire is about 85 percent contained and has burned about 2,860 acres 4 miles from Superior.

-- The Comet Fire has burned 200 acres about 11 miles from the 257 Fire and is 50 percent contained.

Officials said two fires spotted in the Coronado National Forest Saturday likely were started by lightning, the Republic said. The Fox Fire burned 1,200 acres in the Rincon Wilderness about 5 miles from Cascabel and the Garden North Fire burned about about three acres north of Garden Canyon.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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