the conditions on Friday were going to test their spirits — Stewart Turner, a fire behavior specialist
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Despite high winds and dry conditions, the largest fire in state history grew just a little more than 1,000 acres by Thursday evening.
But a fire behavioral specialist said Friday could potentially be one of the bigger days in terms of bad fire conditions for crews battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.
Stewart Turner, a fire behavior specialist, said he was expecting extremely dry conditions and west-southwest winds blowing 25 mph, with 45 mph gusts. He said that will test containment lines that have been built along the east side of the blaze.
“(Friday) is going to be a big day,” he said during a Thursday evening briefing. “It’s gonna be right up there in the Top 6 days of this fire as far as fire growth or potential fire growth.”
He said firefighters engaged in an “old fashioned firefight” on Thursday and were able to keep the northwest portion of the fire from jumping across N.M. 518.
But he said the conditions on Friday were “going to test their spirits.”
The fire complex, which started outside of Las Vegas as a prescribed burn on April 6, grew to 303,342 acres by Thursday evening and was 34% contained.
Carl Schwope, the incident commander, said he was pleased there wasn’t much growth on Thursday despite the conditions.
“Across the fire area, things are looking very favorable, a lot better than we expected,” he said. “We still have (Friday) to get through.”
State officials have said the fire has destroyed up to 1,500 structures and forced 18,000 people to flee their homes.
A blaze in the Gila expanded by more than 10,000 acres.
The Black Fire was at 90,014 acres and 0% contained by Thursday evening. The fire has not destroyed or damaged any structures and firefighters were assessing structures possibly in the fire’s path as critical fire weather moved into the area.
The cause of the blaze is unknown and officials are investigating.
A handful of communities in Grant, Catron and Sierra counties have been evacuated and other areas have been told to prepare to be evacuated.
Bear Trap Fire
A blaze in the San Mateo mountains grew 2,000 acres by Thursday evening.
The Bear Trap Fire is now 19,149 acres.
The fire was reported May 1 and is burning about 22 miles south of Magdalena.
Crews have been successful stopping the fire from spreading north, east and west. Much of the fire activity is taking place in the southern portion of the blaze. The fire isn’t threatening any communities and hasn’t caused any evacuations.
Journal staff writer Matthew Reisen contributed to this report.