Firefighters in California and New Mexico work to subdue wildfires

June 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM
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LOS ANGELES, June 3 (UPI) -- Firefighters worked Monday to contain raging wildfires in California and New Mexico that consumed tens of thousands of acres but have been non-lethal.

The Powerhouse fire in California has burned 30,000 acres. More than 1,000 homes were still under evacuation orders in the Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake areas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The blaze, which destroyed at least six homes, was 40 percent contained, fire officials said.

Fire officials said full containment was not expected until next week. The fire's northern flank spread quickly Sunday with temperatures in the mid-80s and wind gusts in the 40 mph range through much of the day. By Sunday evening, the winds had died down, giving firefighters a chance to get on top of the blaze.

U.S. Forest Service Division Supervisor Jesse Knox said lower temperatures in the forecast were cause for optimism.

"We expect this fire to lay down, "he said. "We are trying to get around it and hem it in."

Officials said they don't know the cause of the fire, which broke out Thursday near an Los Angeles. Department of Water and Power station in San Francisquito Canyon.

In New Mexico, the Tres Lagunas fire had burned nearly 7,500 acres as crews worked to established containment lines in several areas, and helicopters dropped retardant and water, The Santa Fe New Mexican said.

It was zero percent contained.

No structures had been damaged.

Officials said they believed the fire began Thursday by a downed power line.

A second fire in New Mexico, the Thompson fire in the Jemez Mountains, had burned about 1,200 acres as of Saturday, the New Mexican reported.

The fire started Friday when a tree touched a power line on private land, officials said. While it started about 10 miles north of Jemez Springs, the majority of it burned land in the Valles Caldera.

A voluntary evacuation order was issued for about 40 to 50 homes near the area, the New Mexican said.

In California, firefighters in Lake Hughes Saturday saved the Painted Turtle, a camp operated by the Paul Newman Foundation for children with serious medical conditions.

The 150-acre camp was surrounded by dense brush that had not burned in decades, said county fire engineer Rich Wade.

No students were in the camp at the time and the approximately 40 employees left as flames advanced, the Times said.

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