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New Mexico declares state of emergency, evacuations in wildfire

By Amy R. Connolly
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency and placed the National Guard on standby as a wildfire raged out of control. Photo courtesy Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency and placed the National Guard on standby as a wildfire raged out of control. Photo courtesy Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office

ALBUQUERQUE, June 16 (UPI) -- New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency and placed the National Guard on standby as a wildfire raged out of control and dangerously close to homes.

The fire, located in the Manzano Mountains in central New Mexico, covers about 2,000 acres and is being fueled by downed timber and pines amid high winds and low humidity. The National Weather Service issued an air-quality alert for the area near the fire, southeast of Albuquerque.

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Evacuations were ordered for parts of the state, including residents of Chilili, a town of about 140 people in Bernalillo County. Overnight Wednesday, other towns were included in the evacuation orders.

"It is very, very close to the town itself," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Arlene Perea said of Chilili. "It's knocking at the door."

The fire, dubbed the Dog Head Fire, started Tuesday and has more than tripled in size. Some 40 Hot Shot crew members are on site, along with four helicopters and at least eight air tankers. Investigators are trying to determine what sparked the blaze.

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