May 15, 2013, Silver City, NM-  An upper level storm system from the west mixed with a cold front from the east delivered dry lightning late last week, keeping fire crews vigilant and ready to take action.  Several fire lookout towers reported lightning strikes in a variety of locations across the Forest, including the Black Range, the Blue Range Wilderness, and multiple locations in the Quemado Ranger District.

Initial attack handcrews, engines, and air resources mobilized to at least nine verified fires by Friday afternoon, all remaining ¼ acre in size or less. Limited amounts of rain and hail were reported across the forest as well.  “Right now, we have sufficient resources to handle what we have, but I am concerned about the predicted warming trend this week,” stated Gabe Holguin, Fire Staff Officer for the Gila National Forest.  “There might be additional fires reported as a result of these storms and having enough resources to meet the need will be critical.” Drier conditions with mostly sunny and warm weather are predicted.
Another concern of the Forest is the number of abandoned campfires that are being found in the Bear Mountain area.  “Southwest New Mexico sees plenty of lightning-caused fires each year,”  Ellen Brown, Fire Prevention Officer, said. “Any human-caused fire that can be avoided allows fire crews to focus on the lightning fires that are inevitable.”  The Gila National Forest is activating Stage 1 restrictions beginning Tuesday, May 21, which limit campfires to developed campgrounds with agency-provided fire rings or grills. “We look at the number of abandoned campfires being reported as well as fire activity and predicted weather when deciding to restrict campfire use,” Brown continued.  The Gila National Forest strongly encourages recreators to practice fire safety while out on all wild lands.  Never leave any fire unattended, and always have a shovel and water on hand to extinguish a campfire. Fully extinguished ash pits should have no heat remaining.
For additional information, please contact the Gila National Forest at 575.388.8201.#

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