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Air attack only option for battling new NM blaze

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new wildfire burning in the Pecos Wilderness north of Santa Fe more than quadrupled in size Tuesday, burning into an area of down timber that helped to fuel the flames.

The lightning-sparked Jaroso Fire charred about 1,500 acres and was pushing toward Truchas Peak late Tuesday afternoon.

"There are no boots on the ground because of the unsafe conditions so we've been fighting it from the air," said Santa Fe National Forest spokesman Lawrence Lujan.

The blaze started Monday afternoon and quickly burned more than 300 acres, fueled by mixed conifer and dead and dying trees. It was burning in a remote area, and officials said no structures were threatened.

The Jaroso blaze is just the latest one to keep crews busy in New Mexico. Fire danger remains high across the state as hot and dry conditions persist, and land managers have imposed fire restrictions and closures in many areas in hopes of preventing more wildfires.

On the western edge of the Santa Fe forest, crews have been able to keep the Thompson Ridge Fire within the lines they have spent the last several days constructing. The flames made some runs close to the north and south perimeters on Monday but stayed within the lines.

The fire is about 50 percent contained. It has burned more than 34 square miles within the Valles Caldera National Preserve since being sparked on May 31 by a downed power line.

North of Pecos, the Tres Lagunas Fire has burned nearly 16 square miles. It too was sparked by a downed power line.

Fire officials said the focus Tuesday was rehabilitating the fire line and mopping up. The fire is 70 percent contained.

Crews battling the lightning-sparked Silver Fire in southwestern New Mexico were working in steep, rugged terrain. The fire is less than 2 miles from the small community of Kingston, which was evacuated Monday.

More than 350 firefighters have been assigned to the Silver Fire, which is burning in an area that hasn't seen fire in decades.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had burned more than 10 square miles. Beetle-killed trees are helping to fuel the flames.