About 440 fire personnel working on the Pine Lodge Fire near the Capitan Mountains Wilderness have contained about a third of the blaze, which state and local crews have been battling for 11 days.
The 12,828-acre fire in the Lincoln National Forest area was 33% contained by 2 p.m. Saturday, the latest update available at press time from the New Mexico Fire Information website maintained by state and federal fire agencies.
The fire off of Highway 246 about five miles northwest of Arabela started June 19. The possible cause is under investigation. The fire is fueled by grasses, conifers and other trees, with radio towers, some cabins and about 15 structures in Arabela potentially at risk, the website indicates. Pine Lodge firefighters and New Mexico Forestry firefighters were working to suppress the blaze.
A couple of smaller fires have started in the same vicinity, the Blackwater Fire 10 miles southeast of Arabela and the Summit Fire inside the wilderness, which has caused the acreage of the Pine Lodge Fire to expand in recent days.
The fire agencies were describing current fire conditions as moderate, with temperatures expected to remain high and little chance of rain in the next few days.
As a result of fire or smoke, Highway 246 from Capitan to Roswell remains closed, with access only for local property owners, and the section of Capitan Mountains east of Capitan Gap Road is closed.