Lower humidity combined with high winds and temperatures have continued to fuel a massive wildfire burning five miles northwest of Arabella near Lincoln National Forest, increasing the size of the fire to more than 12,000 acres.
Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5, which serves as incident command on the fire, stated in a press release Wednesday morning that the fire has grown to 12,484 acres and was 5% contained. The size of the fire represents a more than 3,000-acre increase in the size of the fire compared to Tuesday morning.
“Heat of the day and gusty winds resulted in active fire behavior in the north, east and southern areas of the fire,” the release states.
Both day and night shifts of firefighters have been working to continue to suppress the blaze that was first discovered June 19, and dozer lines are being established to prevent the fire from spreading further.
Fire crews are conducting burnout operations, improving control lines and working to protect existing structures from the fire. Fire crews are being “spiked” – camped – out closer to the fire area, according to the release. The public was warned of increased fire traffic near Arabella as a new camp was being established.
Efforts to help suppress the fire using air tankers were thwarted because of heavy smoke and lack of visibility. The release states though that helicopters were able to conduct bucket operations on the southeastern part of the fire.
The release warned people to brace for some smoke to settle in the lower areas at night and in the early morning due to what is known as a temperature inversion – where trapped smoke lifts after the sun and temperatures rise.
New Mexico State Road 246 from Capitan and Roswell remains closed to all non-residents of the area. An area closure is in place for the Capitan Mountains east of Capitan Gap Road until further notice. The release also states all trail systems and Forest Service Roads in the affected area are closed to public use, however, West Mountain is still open for recreation.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.