Heat, winds still threaten West wildfire lines

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gusty winds and high temperatures are hampering firefighters trying to protect homes, a popular national park and tinder dry patches of forest from several wildfires burning throughout the Southwest.

Along the New Mexico-Colorado border, the winds Thursday pushed one fire toward breaks that had been carved into the rugged landscape by bulldozers. Crews had anticipated the fire’s movement and were prepared to hold the line with help from helicopters and air tankers.

The winds weren’t as strong as expected, but fire officials said the area wasn’t out of danger.

“For the next couple of days we’re still going to see gusty winds, very hot temperatures and dry conditions. It’s possible we won’t have a red-flag warning, but we will still see some weather conditions that will challenge our containment lines,” fire information officer Denise Ottaviano said.

The fire had been sending up giant plumes of smoke that could be seen from Raton, N.M., each afternoon as the flames ate through nearly 26,000 acres of rugged terrain along the state line.



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