Firefighters make progress against historic New Mexico blaze

SANTA FE, New Mexico Sun Jun 3, 2012 4:13pm EDT

1 of 2. Smoke billows from a forest fire in the Whitewater-Baldy Complex in New Mexico in this June 2, 2012 handout photo obtained by Reuters June 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kari Greer/US Forest Service/Handout

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SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Firefighters battling New Mexico's largest-ever blaze gained ground on Sunday and officials said they would begin to allow evacuated residents to return home on Monday.

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, which has burned 241,701 acres in the Gila National Forest, is now 17 percent contained with progress being made by the hour, said Fire Information Officer Heather O'Hanlon.

Residents of the historic mining town of Mogollon, which was evacuated last Saturday, will be allowed to return starting on Monday, she said.

O'Hanlon said the fire had slowed considerably now that it was headed to shallower terrain and was encroaching on stands of a different type of tree, moving on from mixed conifer to pinon. She said officials were hoping to have a much larger containment number by Monday.

"I think you're going to see a pretty significant change in containment tomorrow," O'Hanlon said.

The blaze, sparked by lightning on May 16, has been burning in deep, rugged canyons, consuming Ponderosa pine and mixed conifer.

Because of the extreme terrain, firefighters have been dropped from helicopters into remote mountain areas.

More than 1,200 personnel remain fighting the fire, including 14 elite so-called hotshot crews.

(Reporting by Zelie Pollon; Editing by James B. Kelleher and Eric Beech)

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Comments (4)
MaggieMP wrote:
Firefighting strategies that rely on fossil-fuel based energy and/or chemicals are only one of uncountable ways we depend on fossil fuels. At the same time, it is suicidal to further destroy human health and other ground-based animal/natural dynamics to poison the earth with extreme extraction/processing technologies to get those last barrels. (Which we are presently doing – it’s shocking to research and learn of destruction of ocean/land plant and animal life due to “primary resource harvesting industries”. It’s also shocking to read of rising cancer and other health issues of people living close to mining/drilling activity).

My home and property are backed by a pinon-covered hill that is quite capable of carrying a good wildfire.

I think of these developments – of where we are, of our equally problematic national/global financial systems, and how we are told that we can “fix” this if we “grow and expand” markets and consumption.

I do believe we *can* find our collective way through humanity’s quite threatening situation. Problem denial is fast becoming the new “extreme” attitude in resource management. We’ll have to change paradigms – we’ll have to realize we’re all in this together, and design policies that let us care for one another and for the earth. If we decide to “let winners take all”, the society that emerges – to live on whatever bits of earth may still support vigorous abundance – will be increasingly selfish and cut-throat.

Re energy allocation – as much as possible most remaining fossil fuels should be used to develop wind, solar, and possibly geothermal. That will allow what remains to last longer during a transition. Natural gas cannot be the answer, nor can coal, since both – like extreme oil extractions – have deadly consequences to anything that depends on water to survive, (which is of course, all life!).

As re access to health care, to healthy food and water, and to opportunity to learn and develop skills – excessive profit taking to boost personal wealth and corresponding “high” lifestyles has had its day. We need much discussion, much exploration. A place to start is to develop curiosity and learn about skills demonstrated by Occupy. Consensus problem solving is a more purely democratic process, fosters “community”, and Occupy’s efforts to provide health care, food/water, and education to all for profit is genuine community at work.

Jun 03, 2012 2:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Should I call you a so called journalist? You earn the title hotshot. It’s not just handed out to anybody.

Jun 03, 2012 2:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MaggieMP wrote:
Yikes! Major editing error in my lengthy comment!
Final sentence *should* read “Occupy’s efforts to provide health care, food/water, and education to all *without seeking profit” is genuine community at work.” (!!)

Jun 03, 2012 3:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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