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Wildfires threaten Texas and New Mexico

April 26, 2011 at 11:26 AM

EL PASO, Texas, April 26 (UPI) -- Dry, windy weather forecast Tuesday created ideal conditions for wildfires in western Texas, the Texas Forest Service said.

Forest officials said drought conditions across the Lone Star state combined with dry vegetation and high winds increased the potential for wildfires that could spread at a rapid pace.

Some 252 communities in West, Northwest and Central Texas are preparing for the threat of rapidly spreading fires, the forest service said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said since the fire season began his state has reported 7,807 fires that have burned more than 1.5 million acres and destroyed 244 homes.

Monday, crews made progress fighting the Abrams Fire in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Firefighters created break lines in Soledad Canyon and other places in the fire's path, spokesman Jim Apodaca told the Las Cruces Sun-News.

"We have quite a bit of potential for real activity but (today) will really be the determining day on it," he said. "If it doesn't move much, we should be able to get a good handle on it."

The fire still has room to grow to the north, west and south, a fire management officer for the U.S Bureau of Land Management said.

A winter freeze in February killed oak trees in the Organs, creating more fuel than usual for wildfire.

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