Wildfires burn in 2 western states

Firefighters working hard in California and New Mexico

June 3, 2013

California fire crews have the “Powerhouse wildfire” nearly 40% contained. Cool, moist air moved in Monday to replace torrid weather that was fueling the massive wildfire north of Los Angeles.

Full containment is not expected until June 10th.

Fire crews gained ground on the 29,500-acre fire that began late last week. “Things are looking better,” said Matt Corelli, of the U.S. Forest Service. “Last night was our best opportunity to make some headway on the fire. A cool mass of air came in, that gave us an upper-hand. The fuel the fire is burning into now is a lot less dense than it was up the hill.”

The Powerhouse fire has burned nearly 30,000 acres and forced at least 2,800 people out of their homes in the Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake areas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Evacuations are expected to last until late Monday or Tuesday.

About 2,100 firefighters are working on the wildfire, aided by water-dropping aircraft, including three helicopters that worked through the night.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Three firefighters had minor injuries, but no one else has been hurt.

In northern New Mexico, two major wildfires are also burning, and weather conditions there were not helping the firefighters on Monday.

The Tres Lagunas fire north of Pecos in the Santa Fe National Forest had grown to 12 square miles by Monday morning. Smoke spreading across much of the region prompted evacuations of about 140 houses. Officials said they believe the fire began Thursday by a downed power line.

The Thompson Ridge fire near Jemez Springs remained at nearly 3 square miles, according to a Monday morning status report. Forty to 50 houses were evacuated late last week.

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