SILVER CITY, NM, June 18, 2014, 2:00 p.m.- Several thunderstorms passed through southwest New Mexico yesterday afternoon, peppering the Gila area with 1,700 to 2,000 lightning strikes and leaving only traces of rain. Dispatchers and fire personnel are busy with numerous fire reports, most of which involve only a single burning snag and less than a quarter acre. Fire starts are located across the Gila National Forest and currently total 14. Engine crews, hotshot crews, smokejumpers, helicopter crews and air tankers have been responding to all smoke reports. The Star Fire is the largest at approximately 5 acres and is located 6 miles south of Wall Lake in the Gila Wilderness. The fire is burning in Ponderosa pine and is staffed with 3 smokejumpers, a hotshot crew, a helitack crew and three air tankers. The storms did not produce significant rain and most remote weather stations across the forest reported only trace amounts of moisture.

While the Silver City area enjoyed a brief rain shower yesterday, fire officials remain concerned about the high fire potential that continues at all elevations. "We encourage all forest visitors to continue fire safe practices, adhering to current fire restrictions which limit campfires to developed campgrounds with agency-provided metal rings and fully extinguishing their fires," states Gabe Holguin, Fire Staff, "We need to keep the number of human-ignited fires to a minimum." Fireworks of any kind are never permitted on Federal Public lands.

In addition to highly trained local wildfire fire personnel, the Gila National Forest is hosting wildland firefighters from the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest regions who are assisting in suppression efforts. Gila fire personnel will travel to these regions in the late summer to return support for their fire efforts.

Please contact the Gila National Forest at 575-388-8201 for any other information.

Live from Silver City

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Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat continues to bring you new columnists. New this past week are the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a new column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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