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US battles massive New Mexico wildfire

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Firefighters in the United States are working to contain the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state of New Mexico.

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex blaze has consumed 92,000 hectares and is only 15 per cent contained, although progress has been made in spite of hot, windy conditions, Brienne Magee, a fire information officer, said.

Specialised firefighters have been dropped in from helicopters, and elite "hotshot crews" called in to fight the blaze that was started by lightning on May 16.

"What we're working with here is really rough and really steep. There are some areas where the most effective way to get firefighters into some places is to use helicopters and to rappel them in," Magee said.

More than 1,200 people have been involved in fighting the fire, which has been burning through thick Ponderosa pine, spruce and mixed conifer in the Gila National Forest. Twelve homes and several outbuildings have so far been burned.

Last June, a wildfire dubbed Las Conchas burned 156,593 acres and threatened the town of Los Alamos and the national laboratory there known for its work with nuclear weapons.

On Saturday, firefighters were performing cleanup operations and shoring up fire lines in and around the old mining town of Mogollon, which is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places.


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