Silver Fire containment has increased from 20% to 35%, but the fire remains a major challenge in extremely difficult conditions.
The fire was very active to the northwest, and partially to the north, causing a smoke plume to reach 39,000 feet in the air Friday. An infrared flight Friday night could not determine the exact size of the growth due to heavy smoke and cloud cover, but is estimated at 107,000 acres. One large spot fire on the west side of the fire in Quaking Aspen Canyon continued to grow. Crews are actively trying to suppress that spot fire. Helicopters were not utilized due to extreme fire behavior and heavy smoke. Aerial ignition was utilized on ridgetops on the northwest corner of the fire near the fire’s edge which was successful in easing the burn severity in that area.
As conditions allow, aerial firing operations will continue to help reduce the fire’s intensity. Fire crews will continue work on containing fire that spotted to the west and constructing indirect fireline further out from fires edge on the west side of the fire within the Cooney Canyon area. The south and east sides of the fire will be monitored by air as no fire activity has be detected for several days. Smoke observed on the east side of the fire is within the North Seco Canyon near the Forest Service boundary.
The Incident Management Team has a land use agreement with the State to utilize their allotment of water from Bear Canyon Lake for water drops. The Team is keeping close records of how much water they are taking out of the Lake to make sure they stay within the terms of the agreement.
Smoke: Winds will initially push smoke to the west but will eventually be out of the southwest changing the direction of smoke to the northeast away from the Silver City and Mimbers Valley areas. Smoke columns may again be visible along the northern part of the fire, especially when mixed conifer fuels burn. For information about health effects of smoke, including actions individuals can take to protect themselves, and guidance on distances and visibility based on location of current fires, please visit https://nmtracking.org/fire.
Weather: Moisture is starting to move into the area bringing more cloud cover, slightly lower temperatures, an increase in relative humidity, and light winds. There is also a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms on the Black Range that may bring dry lightning.
Open Areas: Silver City, Hillsboro, and Winston remain open. Businesses along NM State Highways 15 and 35 remain open, all the way to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The majority of the Gila National Forest is open for recreational opportunities with Stage 1 fire restrictions in effect. For more information on restrictions, go to firerestrictions.us. There is an emergency closure on the Forest for the fire area. For more information about the fire closure go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila
Road Closure: NM Highway 152 is closed from Kingston to San Lorenzo. For additional information go to www.nmroads.com.