Fire evacuation order to be lifted in New Mexico ghost town

The Whitewater-Baldy fire has destroyed a dozen cabins while burning in the Gila National Forest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring two packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves near the blaze.

Tara Ross/U.S. Forest Service/AP
Firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, Ariz., cut a fire line along a mountain ridge outside Mogollon, N.M., on Saturday. The crew is part of an effort to manage and contain the Whitewater-Baldy fire which has burned more than 370 square miles of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

Residents and business owners will be allowed to return to the small privately run ghost town of Mogollon on Monday as fire crews battling the largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history continued to make progress.

The town was evacuated on May 26 as extreme wind fueled the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, now at 377 square miles.

The Catron County Sheriff's Office decided to lift the evacuation order on Monday because crews were able to build some containment lines on the fire's western flank, Tara Ross, a spokeswoman for crews fighting the fire, said Sunday.

The ghost town will open to the public again on Wednesday.

IN PICTURES: New Mexico wildfires

Ross said that milder weather on Sunday and in upcoming days should allow firefighters to increase containment.

"It isn't getting any worse at this point," Ross said. "The weather's kind of keeping it in check.

The community of Willow Creek on the fire's northern flank remained evacuated because Ross said containment lines in the area weren't as strong.

Although the more than 1,200 firefighters on the blaze were making progress, the fire remained 17 percent contained Sunday, and there is no projection for when it may be fully under control.

The Whitewater-Baldy fire has destroyed a dozen cabins while burning in the Gila National Forest. A pair of lightning-sparked fires grew together to form the massive blaze.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring two packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves that are situated to the north and east of the fire. Last year, wolves in Arizona were able to escape the massive Wallow fire with their pups, but it's unclear how mobile the packs in New Mexico are since their pups are much younger.

Authorities also are concerned about flooding that will come in the fire's aftermath because of the denuded landscape, and federal wildlife managers are concerned about what sediment and ash in the waterways could mean for the native Gila trout.

IN PICTURES: New Mexico wildfires

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to