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Record-setting NM fire spreading in all directions

Record-setting NM fire spreading in all directions

CREATED May 31, 2012

Web Producer: Laura Kittell

RESERVE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to fly over the Gila National Forest to survey the damage from the largest wildfire in state history.
    
The erratic blaze grew overnight to more than 190,000 acres, or nearly 300 square miles, as it raced across the area's steep, ponderosa pine-covered hills and through its rugged canyons. Officials on Thursday closed the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument due to smoke from the fire.
    
Fire information officer Iris Estes says more than 1,200 firefighters are at the fire near the Arizona border. It has destroyed 12 cabins and a about 8 outbuildings.
    
The blaze is 5 percent contained.
    
Experts say persistent drought, climate change and shifts in land use and firefighting strategies mean other western states likely will see similar giant fires this season.

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