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IAFF Members Work to Control Colorado and New Mexico Wildfires

June 12, 2012 – Several hundred IAFF members from locals surrounding the wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico are working hard to contain the blazes. Fortunately, there have been no reports of major fire fighter injury or damage to fire fighter homes.

In northern Colorado, the 68-square-mile wildfire there has been blamed for killing one woman, damaging more than 100 structures and forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Containment is said to be minimal.

“Getting a wildfire under control in that part of the state is difficult because of the tough terrain,” says IAFF 9th District Vice President Randy Atkinson. “There are a lot of canyons, so just getting to the fire is a challenge.”

Fire crews, with the help of some air support, have been able to stabilize one corner of the fire. However, because the rest of the fire still burns uncontained, the size of the fire has grown by at least four square miles.

In New Mexico, the 56 square-mile fire near the Ruidoso that has destroyed approximately 175 structures is now 30 percent contained after IAFF member fire fighters took advantage of a break in hot, windy weather to build containment lines.

“Because of New Mexico’s Resource Mobilization Plan, resources -- including fire fighters, brush trucks and other apparatus -- have been deployed quickly to various locations surrounding the fire,” says Albuquerque Wildland Fire Management Officer Jeremy Hansen, a member of Albuquerque Local 244.

However, fire fighters are making slow progress to contain another fire located in the Gila National Forest. The blaze, which has charred 435 square miles of forest, has been burning since mid-May when lightning strikes ignited the area. It is about 37 percent contained.

“The difficulty here is that it is so dry, fires start easily and feed off wildland fuels,” says Hansen. Fuels include vegetation and other organic matter.