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Pine Lodge Fire continues to grow

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The Pine Lodge Fire, burning in the Capitan Mountains Wilderness area, continued to grow in size Saturday as crews comprised of approximately 234 people attempted to bring it under control.

The fire — smoke from which has been visible from Roswell for days — had grown to 2,998 acres by Saturday evening. It was still described, as of Saturday evening, as 0% contained.

The fire is located off Highway 246 between Roswell and Capitan, near Boy Scout Mountain.

On Friday evening, the fire had been estimated at 2,500 acres, up from 701 acres earlier that day.

The cause of the fire, according to nmfireinfo.com, remains unknown and under investigation. It was first detected Wednesday at 2 p.m.

The fire is being fed by fuel including “grass, pinyon-juniper” and “mix conifer,” according to the fire information website, and putting at risk structures such as radio towers, cabins and various structures in the Arabela area.

The fire was 3-5 miles northwest of Arabela and crews scouted and assessed structures in and around the town.

On Saturday morning, fire crews began an operation to, “keep the fire from continuing east, and hold it on Forest Service land,” according to nmfireinfo.com updates.

An update posted Saturday evening indicated that on Saturday, “winds from the east produced an increase in fire activity on the western flank of the fire. Originally crews had hoped to catch the fire at Copland Canyon, however fire crossed that canyon and fire crews are now working from … Seven Cabins Road to create a fuel break.

“The increased fire activity produced a large smoke column that could be seen from surrounding communities.”

Also, according to the evening update, crews were able “to utilize air operations, including retardant drops, the entire day” on Saturday.

Weather, although somewhat cooler, was still being categorized as “critical fire weather” throughout Saturday.

In terms of closures, according to the website, “The fire has not crossed Highway 246, but because of smoke impacts, it has been closed from Capitan to Roswell.

“Local homeowners will be allowed access.

“The Smokey Bear Ranger District issued an area closure for the Capitan Mountains east of Capitan Gap. West Mountain will remain open for recreational use.”