LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - After winds calmed down, crews were back to battling the Abrams Fire Wednesday.
If Las Crucens look close enough, a dirty brown haze is seen hovering over the Organ Mountains. As of Wednesday evening, the fire was 40% contained. But a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management said crews are comfortable with the current situation, and no one should be worried.
"It makes me want to cry,? Sharon Perrone, who was watching the fire nearby, said. ?It just breaks my heart to see what we're losing up in the mountains."
Sharon and her husband, Ken, are keeping a close eye on white plumes of smoke billowing from the Organ Mountains.
"It's just too bad the damage that's going to be done as a result of all this,? Ken said.
On the east side of the Organ Mountains, looking toward the west, white billows of smoke are seen escaping from deep inside the canyon near what is known as Sugarloaf Peak. The steep, jagged terrain is making it difficult for crews to get directly in there to handle the flames, BLM officials said; but a fire reserved in this particular area can actually be a good thing. If it wasn't for Mother Nature's help, Smith said, they would have to do prescribed burns anyway.
"This is an area that's very rugged, and so there are situations where having fire burning in an area like this is good, because it does take away fuel for fire that could occur later in the summer when it's hotter and possibly drier," Rico Smith, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, said.
Fire personnel said they want to keep the fire contained on the east side of the mountains so gusty winds do not push it further down the slopes into White Sands Missile Range, located about two miles away.
?White Sands Missile Range is in no more danger than the city of Las Cruces is,? Smith said. ?There would have to be a very dramatic switch and change in the weather and pace in the fire for this to happen."
Investigators said a military training exercise sparked the flames.
"The military can't wait until rainy season to train, so there's always a risk something like this could happen," Smith said.
It could be days or even a week before the fire is fully contained, Smith said.
"I think they could have picked a better time to do some of their exercises than when we're in supreme fire warnings," Ken said.
The fire scorched about 7,000 so far, but no structures are being threatened at this time, Smith said.