SILVER CITY, NM. – The Silver Fire has grown to 17,000 acres and remains zero percent contained. The steep and difficult terrain makes it extremely difficult for ground forces to access the area and find appropriate locations for line construction. Public meetings have been scheduled to further explain the containment and suppression strategy.
A public meeting was held today at the Hillsboro Community Center. District Ranger Larry Cosper and Incident Commander Matt Reidy were present to explain the fire suppression plan and the various challenges posed by the terrain, vegetation and weather. Public information meetings will be held every day at the Hillsboro Community Center at 10 a.m. until further notice. Public meetings have also been scheduled for Mimbres Valley and Silver City. The Mimbres meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. this Friday night at Roundup Lodge on Acklin Hill Road in San Lorenzo. The Silver City meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday night at the Grant County Administration Building, located at 1400 U.S. Highway 180 East in Silver City.
Last night, unusually strong easterly winds drove the Silver Fire to within one-quarter mile of the town of Kingston. Firefighters responded late last night and successfully protected the town. Kingston remains under a mandatory evacuation order; the evacuation center is located in the town of Hillsboro at the Community Center on Elenora Street. The fire burned actively to the south past Seven Brothers Mountain toward Royal John Mine.
Tonight, expect smoke to settle into the valleys and for the fire to continue actively burning. The communities that will most likely be impacted by smoke from the Silver Fire are the communities of Hillsboro and communities in the Mimbres Valley south of San Lorenzo. Winds are expected to push smoke north from the Silver Fire towards Magdalena, potentially reaching Albuquerque tomorrow.
To ensure public safety, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area has been closed east of NM State Highway 152 from the Continental Divide Trail #74 south to Reeds Peak. NM State Highway 152 from San Lorenzo to Hillsboro remains 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 and the Royal John Road are also closed for public safety. For more information see http://fs.usda.gov/gila or www.nmroads.com. Although these closures are in place, the rest of the Gila National Forest remains open for recreation.
Although there are other fires occurring in New Mexico and Colorado, the Incident Management Team has adequate firefighting resources on hand to conduct suppression activities according to their plan.