'Silver Fire' threatens Gila National Forest; three fires blaze in NM

Fire crews are working around the clock on a series of wildfires Monday night.

New Mexico Fires

EL PASO, Texas - Fire crews are working around the clock on a series of wildfires Monday night. The latest one is right near a local national forest. The "Silver Fire" is on the southeastern edge of the Gila National Park, about 40 miles east of Silver City. Residents nearby have been evacuated.

Investigators said it started Friday after lightning struck. So far, it's burned through 2 square miles on the southeastern edge of the Gila National Forest.

Crews said they're using choppers and delivering firefighters by the truck load to the area.

A mandatory evacuation is taking place in Kingston, about 2.5 miles from the fire.

The park is littered with pines, eaten out by beetles and mounds of dried out underbrush, making firefighters nervous the Silver fire could swiftly spread.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez toured the area Monday afternoon. Martinez told ABC-7 she could see huge clouds of smoke and the blaze glowing red and orange. Martinez said it was "a sad sight to see."

Two fires are continuing to burn in the Sante Fe National Forest: the Tres Lagunas fire, about 10 miles from Pecos, and the Thompson Ridge fire, about 2 miles northeast of La Cueva.

Fire crews have contained about 60 percent of the Tres Lagunas, and about 40 percent of Thompson.

Before being released from the fire, all water handling equipment, such as engines and water tenders, must be decontaminated to ensure that two area aquatic hitchhikers, "rock snot" and "whirling disease," will not be transferred to other areas by equipment and machinery.

Rock snot (Didymosphenia geminata), is an invasive (non-native) algae. According to New Mexico Environment and Game and Fish Department literature, the algae "form large, ugly growths on stream bottoms. These dense mats harm native and wild trout habitat."

"Whirling Disease," caused by a Protozoan parasite that affects the nervous system of trout populations, results in a circular swimming behavior and reduces their mobility and fertility.

The equipment is submerged in a bleach solution, then dried. Engines and water tenders draft a bleach solution up through their water systems and flush them out. Smaller pieces, such as fittings, are soaked in buckets of bleach solution.

Decontamination of machinery and equipment is becoming a procedure that many firefighters are adding to their mission. 

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