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Pecos Fire
Press Release

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  • 6/5/00 As reported in the Albuquerque Tribune
Viveash jumps borderline;  gap fire burns near Socorro

The Associated Press

     PECOS -- Embers that leapfrogged over fire lines sparking hot spots forced firefighters to pull back and set up a secondary line of defense, increasing the size of the Viveash Fire to 28,283 acres.
     The week-old fire in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains east of Santa Fe has forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.
     Firefighters began building the secondary containment line Saturday to contend with the rash of hot spots on the eastern side of the fire near the Gallinas watershed, fire information officer Cathie Schmidlin said.
     "There were numerous hot spots outside that containment line, so in order to ensure there was protection from these hot spots spreading, they wanted to put in a secondary line, which they did. They did complete a secondary line from Elk Mountain down to Evergreen Valley," she said.
     The fire remained 70 percent contained, she added.
     A smaller fire was reported Sunday afternoon in the Magdalena Mountains about 150 miles southwest of the Viveash Fire.
     Called the Petrocino Gap Fire, the blaze was started by lightning west of Socorro in the past couple of days, said Terri Wildermuth, state Forestry Division spokeswoman. Early reports pegged the burned land at 80 acres, but revised mapping showed 50 scorched acres by Monday morning, she said.
     A 20-person firefighting crew was battling the blaze in rough terrain, and the fire should be contained later today, Wildermuth said.
     On the Viveash Fire east of Santa Fe, crews also worked to create water bars Sunday along the edges of the fire to slow water movement and prevent soil erosion.
     Crews have been trying to turn the blaze northward toward the Pecos Wilderness to reduce the threat to Gallinas Canyon -- the main watershed for Las Vegas, N.M. -- as well as property and structures in the area. But they don't want the fire spreading into the wilderness, where a lack of roads and a ban on mechanized vehicles would make fighting it more difficult.
     Lyle said authorities have determined that the fire was human-caused, but said the investigation is continuing and didn't release any more details.
     Campers and residents were ordered out of Gallinas, El Porvenir and Cow Creek canyons and the upper reaches of Pecos River Canyon on Tuesday. Pecos River and Gallinas canyons have been reopened.
     The other evacuated areas -- including Cow Creek, Bull Creek and Manzanares -- are open to property owners but only during daylight hours so they can check their land.
     The cost of battling the blaze was pegged at $2.11 million as of Friday, fire information officer Tom Mott said.


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