Memorial Day weekend marred by forest fires


Firefighters battle a brush fire in the Meadowlands near Metlife Stadium on April 11, 2012, in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Fire continues to trouble six states heading into the busy Memorial Day weekend.


Michael Bocchieri

Six states are spending Memorial Day weekend battling – or anticipating – forest fires as high wind and heat make life difficult.

Fires have scorched more than 200 square miles of forest in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan, Reuters reported.

Lightning strikes started fires in New Mexico that have continued almost unchecked for four days.

“Fire activity was so extreme (Friday) we had to pull crews out,” Fire Information Officer Dan Ware told Reuters. “We’re expecting another day like that today. With such high wind levels and low humidity there’s going to be big potential for some major growth.”

Two blazes have burned more than 82,000 acres – much of it steep terrain that’s difficult to access – in New Mexico.

The fire in New Mexico forced an evacuation alert for homeowners around the historic mining town of Mogollon, MSNBC said.

The high winds have made dropping retardant from the air impossible, spokeswoman Iris Estes told MSNBC.

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Gusting winds are worrying fire crews in Colorado, CBS News said.

Forecasters predict 70 mph gusts, and police are evacuating a popular recreation area near the Utah border as a result.

Water bombers and fire crews are on standby, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin told CBS.

“We’ve got the resources. We’ve got the firefighters,” he said. “We’re ready.”

In Michigan, more than 21,000 acres are scorched, The Associated Press said.

The National Guard is helping control a blaze that grew by 17 percent overnight in the Upper Peninsula.

Almost 100 people have been evacuated, and six buildings destroyed, the AP reported.

About 40 buildings face the threat of fire, the Department of Natural Resources said.

“Structure protection is high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. ... Potential for blow-up conditions” exists, a department news release said, according to AP.

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