ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Wildland firefighters caught a break Wednesday as the Midnight Fire in the Carson National Forest grew little despite strong winds blowing as forecast.
Late in the afternoon a fire information officer said the blaze about six miles northeast of Red River had grown to an estimated 375 acres. Earlier in the day the estimate was just over 300 acres after being placed at 200 acres late Tuesday several hours after the fire was first reported.
It's cause is not known..
"Although the predicted winds did materialize, a combination of several factors contributed to a minimal growth for an estimated total acres of 375," a statement to the news media read. "As winds moved the fire to the northeast, the fuels changed to grass and aspen groves, which produced less active fire behavior."
The fire is far from out, however, and fire bosses are saying it may burn until snow falls.
Due to the hazards in the area, particularly rough terrain and extensive stands of trees killed by bark beetles, firefighters are being kept at a distance for their safety. Instead of a direct attack, the fire team has adopted a strategy of "confine-and-contain supression."
Winds are blowing the fire away from Red River.
Late Wednesday winds at Red River were from the west at 16 mph with gusts to 25 mph. The forecast for Thursday includes stronger winds with gusts to 25 mph and a slight chance of snow overnight and on Friday.
Earlier coverage Wednesday:
Campers in the area were warned to prepare for evacuations as the flames came to within a quarter mile of the Valle Videl Recreation Area.
The main concern Wednesday is the predicted forecast for even higher winds that Tuesday. The fire has been moving from west to east, away from the nearby town of Red River and is not currently threatening any structures.
About 75 firefighters are on the scene and have a couple of dozers cutting fire breaks, and there are also eight fire engines.
Two aircrafts have also been assigned to help fight the fire.
Fire managers say they are concentrating on the southern flank, trying to keep the blaze from moving south.
The cold front anticipated to make its way to the area beginning Thursday and into Friday is hoped to help reduce the fire's behavior.
Officials with the Carson National Forest say there are some hunters camping in the area but they are in no immediate danger. Forest officials are working to locate them and inform them of the situation.
There's also the Goblin Fire burning near Durango which is holding at 700 acres.
Firefighters will be on that scene for the next several days monitoring the blaze's growth and behavior.
Those three fires, plus the Chimney Fire which started up in the Sandias last weekend, have forest rangers are high alert right now.
The Chimney Fire is not fully contained, it burned about 20 acres.
Rangers have raised the fire danger in the Sandia to "High", yet another reminder of how dry it is in the area.
Officials say the Bernalillo County Treasurer Office is closed Friday after a suspicious substance was found in the office.
One thing that this winter weather can really do is help get you in that holiday spirit.
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