SILVER CITY – While the black fire in the Gila National Forest continues to grow, so do the containment levels.
As of Monday, May 30, the fire has charred 241,403 acres and is 26% contained. By the weekend, firefighters had contained 13% of what was then a 191,459-acre blaze.
Around 750 people are dedicated to firefighting, third largest in state history. The wildfire is burning in a largely uninhabited part of the forest and has consumed two structures.
The official fire report notes that much of the containment is taking place on the western front. Crews continue firing operations on the northwest side, establishing containment lines from Forest Road 150 East. The fire is growing south – where it is burning in the Silver Fire scar towards the McKnight and Lake Mountains – and east – where it remains active in the Mineral Creek area and is expected to spread into the Palomas Creek drainage .
The origin of the fire is under investigation, but is suspected to be “man-made”, according to the report.
How far is the Black Fire from the cities?
The Gila National Forest released a map on Sunday, May 29, showing how far the black light is from landmarks and population centers. There is also an interactive evacuation map showing structures near the fire.
The interactive map shows several homes along Poverty Creek, about 2.4 miles north of the fire. There are also a number of homes in the Mineral Creek area near the historic towns of Chloride and Winston, which are 4.4 miles and 6.2 miles respectively east of the present line of fire. Structures along Poverty Creek and Mineral Creek are most at risk.
Kingston and Hillsboro, along US 152 and south of the Black Fire, are probably the best known areas of the forest’s Black Range. Further west, but still south of the Black Fire, are Mimbres and San Lorenzo. The four small towns are between 14 and 19 miles from the wildfire.
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The Gila Hot Springs are 11 km west of the black fire and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is 16 km west of the fire, although the fire is largely contained on this side.
The largest population centers threatened by the fire are Silver City, 27.1 miles southwest of the Black Fire, and Truth or Consequences, 27.7 miles east of the fire.
Evacuation orders and closures
Grant, Catron and Sierra county sheriff’s offices have announced evacuations for areas near the fire. Ready, Set, Go evacuation statuses are on the official fire report page.
Highway 59 is closed from Mud Hole to intersection 59/150. Forest Route 150 is also closed at the North Star Heliport. Interstate 25 and other state highways remain open. A portion of the Gila National Forest affected by the fire has been closed.