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Silver Fire AM update June 12

Unusual nighttime easterly winds drove the Silver Fire to within one-quarter mile of the town of Kingston. Firefighters responded overnight and successfully protected the town. The town of Kingston remains under a mandatory evacuation order. An evacuation center is located in the town of Hillsboro at the Community Center on Elenora Street.

According to Information Officer David Thompson, last night's downslope winds threatened Kingston, but firefighters are keeping the town and its structures wetted down, and they kept it out of the town. He said about 29 people were evacuated from the town, many of whom are staying at the evacuation center in Hillsboro.

Thompson said the winds are predicted to shift to the southeast this afternoon, which will help Kingston and is likely to burn farther into the Aldo Leopod Wilderness, which is fuel-rich.

The firefighters continue to treat this as a "full suppression fire," but terrain prevents them accessing it directly. At a Grant County Commission meeting on Tuesday, June 11, Gila National Forest Fire Prevention Officer Ellen Brown said the priority for the fire is public and firefighter safety.

This morning'’s public meeting was held at the Hillsboro Community Center at 10 a.m.

To ensure public safety the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area has been closed east of Highway 150 from the Continental Divide Trail #74 south to Reeds Peak. Highway 152 from San Lorenzo to Hillsborough is closed. Closure is for eastbound and westbound traffic from 35 miles east of Bayard at mile marker 16 to 10 miles west of Hillsboro at mile marker 40. Trail #79 is also closed. For more information see http://fs.usda.gov/gila or www.nmroads.com.

Northern Arizona Incident Management Team Commander Matt Reidy told firefighters early this morning that crews were to look for the most effective places to engage the fire with the greatest possibility of success. Reidy reminded the crews that this fire is especially dangerous because it has been over 100 years since there has been a fire here and the forest is extremely dense.

Today’s weather will continue to challenge firefighter efforts to contain and suppress the Silver Fire. It will be hot and dry with the possibility of dry lightning. Unstable atmospheric conditions could allow for a large column of smoke to form over the fire. While the 11,500 acre fire remains 0% contained, all divisions of the fire are beginning to build fireline where possible and specialized crews are completing structure protection.

About 350 personnel are assigned to the incident including seven hotshot crews, three 20-person crews, 10 engines, and two dozers. Due to the large amount of fire activity in the state, competition for resources is high.

The Silver Fire is located on the Gila National Forest, east of Silver City, just west of the community of Kingston, NM. The fire is growing generally eastward.

An evacuation order is in place for Kingston as of June 10 at 1:40 a.m.

Highway 152 is closed through the Black Range, from San Lorenzo to Hillsboro. There is no estimate of reopening at this time.

The Royal John Road is closed to the public, but residents are being allowed access at this time.

The Silver Fire was started by lightning on June 7 approximately 7 miles southwest of Kingston, New Mexico. Smoke is visible from Highway 152 and Silver City, as well as Interstate 10 near Deming, NM.

Firefighters have been taking an active suppression approach since initial response to the Silver Fire. They are challenged by extremely rough terrain, a substantial amount of unburned fuel and beetle-killed trees, and extreme fire conditions. Firefighters are working on point protection around structures, roads and area campgrounds.

Follow the Silver Fire on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SilverFireNM and Twitter at www.twitter.com/SilverFireNM (@SilverFireNM).

Maps and Photos are available to view, download and print free on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/gilaforest/

Basic Information
Incident Type    Wildfire
Cause    Lightning
Date of Origin    Friday June 07th, 2013 approx. 03:00 PM
Location    Southwest of Kingston
Incident Commander    Matt Reidy

Current Situation
Total Personnel    350
Size    11,500 acres

Fuels Involved    

Pinyon pine/juniper, ponderosa

Fire Behavior    

Backing fire, single and group tree torching with passive short run crown fire in the mixed conifer; fire behavior was generally terrain and fuel driven.
Significant Events    

Focus is on point protection and structure protection in Kingston and other values at risk. Continued recon in all divisions to develop viable suppression strategies given the challenges with fuels and topography, with priority on providing for public and firefighter safety.
Planned Actions    

For the upcoming operation period, crews will continue point protection and structure protection in and around Kingston along with other areas; Construct line on the east side of the fire, north and south of Highway 152. Continue scouting NW of the fire area.
Growth Potential    

Terrain Difficulty    

Current Weather
Temperature    94 degrees
Humidity    11%

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