Updated: Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012, 7:08 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012, 7:08 PM MDT
RUIDOSO, N.M. (KRQE) - Nearly 10 days after it started and almost a week after it jumped containment lines the Little Bear Fire remains a dangerous blaze whose reach can be seen easily from the air.
KRQE News 13 pilot-reporter Bob Martin and photojournalist Matt Romo filed this report on the situation as seen from above the fire in Skyranger.
This northwest side of the Little Bear Fire in the higher elevations of Upper Bonito and Nogal canyons remains the most active region and of major concern to firefighters.
While other areas to east, closer to more populated spots, are quiet and in patrol and mop-up mode, this is where there is concern about possible uncontrolled advance of the flames especially if winds increase.
Yesterday, America's largest air tanker--a privately owned converted DC-10 jetliner called Tanker 911--was used to help other smaller air tankers slow the growth of the Little Bear on the west flank.
The DC-10 can carry as much retardant or water on one load as four of the largest other air tankers in the national fleet combined.
The aerial work on the west and northwest flanks is continuing today in support of firefighters on the ground. Almost 1,200 firefighters are here now.
The crews on foot in the high country are using hand tools and bulldozers to construct miles of containment lines to protect Nogal Canyon and the Upper Bonito. In this part of the fire area, steep and rugged terrain can be especially challenging.
Conditions can also change rapidly when winds begin gusting; relatively quiet areas can suddenly flare up. Fire managers say the Little Bear remains dangerous and able to generate bursts of intense fire.
The Sierra Blanca ski area reports that while their facilities did sustain some damage from the fire, it will not delay the opening of the ski area this fall.