HILLSBORO, N.M. (KRQE) - Despite helpful winds the Silver Fire continues to bear down on Kingston as firefighters vow to save the historic mountain community.
The latest estimate has the fire within a quarter of a mile of the village tucked into a high canyon in the Black Range.
While firefighters say the winds may actually be helping them today, this town is still very much in danger.
As of late afternoon winds were pushing the flames away from the town, but it's still a big fight complicated by knowing the winds could act up at any moment.
People in Kingston say they got word early Monday morning that they had to leave and to be quick about it.
"There's a big red flame on the horizon, and also we started hearing the rumble," said Catherine Wanek, owner of the Black Range Lodge on Main Street. "It was still miles away, but you could still hear the rumble of the fire coming closer and closer."
The residents moved seven miles down the east slope to Hillsboro where the community center is providing both lodging and a place where morning meetings keep everyone in the loop.
The center also is taking care of 350 firefighters.
Early Wednesday evening fire bosses estimated the fire sparked by a lightning strike on Friday had grown to nearly 17,000 acres and was burning mostly to the southwest. Firefighters were still in Kingston ready to protect structures, and a small burnout operation was planned for later in the evening to help provide a buffer protecting the community.
Fire officials say it's grown to the south and west in very rugged terrain that's making it hard to fight on the ground. Instead the fire team is relying on aircraft dropping water and retardant.
Fire lines are also being set up near the end of the tree line where it goes back into grassland and where fire fighters can actually work.
They're doing all this while keeping an eye on Kingston
"That town is our priority keeping those structures safe and ensuring that we keep that area free from fire and hopefully protect those homes so people can get back to their normal way of life," Fire Information Officer Andrew Loescher of the Gila National Forest told KRQE News 13.
Another thing working against firefighters is the extreme heat with little to no humidity.
Still they are confident they can keep the flames out of Kingston and are preparing defensive lines above the community.
The former boomtown reached the peak of its prosperity and notoriety in the late 1800s during its silver-mining days when for a time it was the biggest city in New Mexico.
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