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Updated: Saturday, 18 Jun 2011, 10:24 PM MDT
Published : Saturday, 18 Jun 2011, 3:56 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Wildland fire crews are battling a burgeoning blaze in the Santa Fe National Forest as well as a range fire northwest of Clovis.
The fire north of Santa Fe broke out in Pacheco Canyon on the west side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains below the Ski Santa Fe. Smoke is visible from Santa Fe, Española and much of the surrounding area including Las Vegas on the west side of the forest.
Shortly before 5 p.m. a National Forest spokesman reported the fire to be actively running with spot fires appearing in front of the main blaze. By 9:00 p.m. its size was estimated at 500 acres as it churned through mixed conifer and ponderosa pine.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Winds at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport on Saturday were reported to be from the west-southwest at 20 mph gusting to 39 mph.
The fire was initially spotted at 3:20 p.m. by two members of the Los Alamos Civil Air Patrol squadron, according to information provided to News 13. Pilot Mike Strevell and observer Bill Wolfe circled the fire and reported it to be "roaring."
The interagency Southwest Coordinating Center later placed the fire at five to seven acres about six miles northeast of Tesuque.
Eight air tankers and two helicopters soon joined ground crews in fighting the fire.
No structures are threatened but a powerline in the area is, according to the Forest Service. There also are no evacuations yet, but residents of Pacheco Canyon and hikers and campers in and around the Santa Fe Ski Basin, Aspen Basin, Aspen Vista and Big Tesuque are warned to be on alert.
Red Flag weather conditions were occurring at the time and are expected again on Sunday. That means low humidity, high temperatures and strong winds.
The overnight forecast was for temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity of 15-20 percent and descreasing winds with gusts to 35 mph.
Near the Texas-New Mexico border the Windy Fire in Curry County erupted about 2 p.m. in grassy range roughly 35 miles northwest of Clovis and 25 miles southwest of Grady.
Homes and powerlines are threatened, according to New Mexico State Forestry.
Shortly after 3 p.m. State Forestry reported the fire to be active with three fire engines on scene and orders placed for air tankers. Cannon Air Force Base reported southwest winds of 17 mph with gusts to 26 mph.
A fire also broke out Saturday in Carnuel in Tijeras Canyon east of Albuquerque apparently when the wind brought down a power line and a transformer exploded, Bernalillo County Fire Chief John Garcia said. Flames charred about one acre, he said.
A photo submitted to KRQE.com ReportIt! by Monica Sheppard showed flames working through rocky terrain behind homes.
"Looks under control now but very scary moments as apparently neighbors were trying to put it out with hoses and shovels," she wrote.