Pecos fire continues to rage

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By Associated Press

PECOS (AP) — Hazy conditions due to smoke from a wildfire burning east of Santa Fe are expected in the region through Tuesday as firefighters work to protect homes and other structures in the area.

Firefighters also are trying to protect watersheds for Santa Fe and Las Vegas. The Tres Lagunas fire has burned approximately 8,500 acres but so far no structures in an area about 10 miles north of Pecos since it started Thursday due to a downed power line. Containment as of Monday night was 7 percent.

Firefighters were working to protect a group of homes in the Holy Ghost Canyon and prevent the fire from spreading east where it could endanger a river watershed that supplies the city of Las Vegas.

Approximately 140 structures, mostly summer residences, have been evacuated along with numerous campgrounds.

Tres Lagunas incident commander John Pierson said firefighters had setup a sprinkler system to moisten the area around a group of summer homes in the Holy Ghost Canyon. They were also working on a fire line on the ridge above that canyon. Because the ridge is very steep, he said should the flames make a sudden leap down the canyon the only protection would be the sprinkler system connected to a nearby stream that has been dousing the area for about 48 hours.

Pierson said officials also were concerned that winds blowing from the south and southwest would move westerly with gusts up to 34 mph and blow embers to the east, potentially spreading the blaze to the watershed of the Gallinas River, a main source of drinking water for Las Vegas, a community with a population of more than 13,000. A severe fire in the heavily timbered watershed could increase the potential for damaging erosion when rains and runoff come later.