By Mary Alice Murphy
The latest news on the Signal Fire, according to Punky Moore, acting public affairs officer on the Gila National Forest, is that the acreage grew today, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, to 5,748 acres. However, the good news is that it has been 15 percent contained on the north and southeast sides of the fire.
The number of personnel has increased to 573. "Work still needs to be done on the northwest side of the fire," Moore said.
With severe weather indicators coming back to the area over the weekend, including strong winds and low humidity, she asked people to be careful with anything that could cause a fire.
Helitankers and helicopters were used today in fighting the fire. "I heard reports that the use of aircraft yesterday and today was helpful in stopping the extent of fire in the high dry grasses." She explained it is the high dry grass, which helps fuel the fire when the winds are blowing.
Moore wanted to remind people of the closure of the Big Tree Trailhead because of the fire operations camp, as well as road closures that went into effect today on New Mexico 15 from the Ben Lilly Monument at least to the gravel pit at Wildhorse Mesa, and perhaps, as needed to New Mexico 35.
Cherry Creek and McMillan campgrounds are closed until further notice. Numerous trails and roads in the fire area are also closed, including Meadow Creek Road, the Signal Peak Road and trailhead, the Little Cherry Creek Trail and part of the Continental Divide Trail. Others closed as of Tuesday morning were the Cross Mountain Road and the Lockney Road. At Fort Bayard, in addition to the Big Tree Trail, the Wood Haul Wagon Road Trail and Sawmill trails would be closed. The Cornell Ranch and Fence Line Trails would also be closed.
For air quality questions, visit http://app.airsis.com/USFS/realtime/fleet.asp.