The Latest: New Mexico wildfire threatens more homes

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EAGLE NEST, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a northern New Mexico wildfire (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Authorities say a wildfire burning in a forested area of northeastern New Mexico is threatening nearly 300 homes.

The blaze on Friday had charred more than 25 square miles (66 square kilometers) since igniting a day earlier. The flames were spreading quickly through grasslands and ponderosa pine thanks to hot, dry and windy conditions.

The communities of Ute Park and Cimarron have been evacuated. Roads are closed throughout the area. Officials have reported that 12 empty buildings at the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Ranch have been burned.

Forecasters say there’s little relief expected and that the massive smoke plume generated by the Ute Park Fire has risen thousands of feet into the air.

12:10

Gusty winds are fanning a wildfire that has burned 38 square miles of forest in western New Mexico, blowing embers past containment lines and starting spot fires.

Officials report there are containment lines around 34 percent of the fire as of Friday but say firefighters are being challenged by having to both stop growth of the main fire while patrolling for spot fires.

The human-caused fire started May 22 and is east of Reserve on the Gila National Forest.

Gusty winds are expected to continue through Friday evening as relative humidity remains at low levels.

Smoke from the fire is blowing toward Socorro and Truth or Consequences.

Approximately 530 firefighters and other personnel are assigned to the fire.

Noon

Authorities say a wildfire that has forced evacuations, closed a state highway and burned structures on the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Ranch in northeastern New Mexico has charred an estimated 25 square miles (66 sq. kilometers).

The new estimate came out Friday after residents of Cimarron and the surrounding areas were told to leave their homes. Evacuation centers were set up in communities further east.

The fire started Thursday and quickly ballooned as it raced through ponderosa pine groves and other forested land that had been hit hard by a persistent drought.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

11:25 a.m.

Evacuation centers have been set up in northeastern New Mexico as heavy smoke from a wildfire has forced residents from Cimarron and the surrounding areas to leave their homes.

Authorities were directing people to the communities of Springer and Raton as conditions were expected to worsen Friday. Forecasters say red-flag conditions are expected, meaning more warm temperatures, winds and low humidity.

The U.S. Postal Service says the post office in Ute Park has been evacuated and postal workers in Cimarron were in the process of being evacuated. Temporary mail service for the two areas is being set up in Springer.

Several air tankers and four helicopters are battling the blaze. It has charred an estimated 12.5 square miles (32 sq. kilometers) and has burned unoccupied structures on the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Ranch.

10:25 a.m.

A northern New Mexico wildfire has burned a dozen unoccupied structures on the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Scout Ranch where staff members who live in the nearby community of Cimarron have been released to care for their families.

Philmont says no program participants are at the ranch and that all staff is accounted for.

Philmont’s statement says Cimarron and the smaller community of Ute Park are under evacuation orders because of smoke and air-quality concerns.

The fire has burned 12.5 square miles (32sq. kilometers) and crossed and closed State Route 64 since starting Thursday. Its cause is under investigation.

9:10 a.m.

Authorities say a northern New Mexico wildfire has grown to 12.5 square miles (32sq. kilometers) while burning 12 unoccupied structures at the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Scout Ranch and crossing and closing a state highway.

The fire closed State Route 64 and State Forestry spokeswoman Wendy Mason says 150 homes were threatened but it’s not clear how many residents are affected.

Mason says the area of the fire has been evacuated and that voluntary evacuation notices were issued for Cimarron and the small community of Ute Park.

Philmont says no participants are now at the ranch and that all staff is accounted for.

No injuries are reported.

The fire started Thursday. Its cause is under investigation.

A top-level incident management team was being deployed to oversee firefighting efforts.

8:05 a.m.

A wildfire in northern New Mexico jumped and closed a state highway as it burned 7 square miles (18 sq. kilometers) of grass and pine, including part of the Boy Scouts’ Philmont Scout Ranch.

A top-tier incident management team is being assigned to the fire, which crossed State Route 64 between Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron in Colfax County after starting Thursday. The cause isn’t known.

Officials say 150 homes are threatened but that no structures have burned.

State Forestry spokeswoman Wendy Mason says the fire is burning on state and private land, including part of Philmont. Its website says no participants are now at the ranch and that all staff is accounted for.

Firefighting aircraft are using Eagle Nest Lake as a water source.

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