The largest forest fire in New Mexico history, which has already destroyed almost 92,000 hectares (230,000 acres) of forestland and pastures, continued to burn on Sunday, authorities reported.
Forestry officials in the region said that more than 1,200 people, including volunteer and professional firefighters, are battling the flames and as of Saturday they had contained about 17 percent of the fire.
Meanwhile, public health authorities were advising children and adults with heart or respiratory illnesses or conditions to remain indoors, given the possibility that the fire might grow, producing substantial smoke in the region.
The fire in the Gila National Forest is the result of two smaller blazes that merged on May 23, aided by the prevailing drought and winds of between 70 and 80 kilometers (43 and 50 miles) per hour.
On May 9, lightning started a fire in an inaccessible area of the Baldy Complex and on May 16 the Forestry Service received the first report of another fire in Whitewater, several kilometers (miles) away.
New Mexico Health Department Secretary Catherine Torres said that due to the prolonged drought in the region it is probable that smoke will persist in the area until the rainy season, which normally begins in July. EFE