KINGSTON, N.M. (KRQE) - The small town of Kingston remains evacuated and under threat from the rapidly growing Silver Fire in the Gila National Forest.
Officials say the fire is now within one-quarter mile of the town of Kingston.
They say an 'unusual nighttime easterly wind" helped drive the fire towards the town.
Overnight, firefighters were able to successfully protect the town.
- Earlier coverage:
The blaze exploded over the past 24 hours quadrupling in size to almost 7,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon.
Although not moving rapidly on the east side of the fire ground, slow moving flames were within one mile of the Kingston located in a canyon near the crest of the Black Range.
Higher up the Silver Fire now stretches across miles of rugged forest about 20 miles east of Silver City.
It is up here and along the southwestern perimeter that the intensity surges. This is where most of the growth took place in the last 24 hours.
It is the extremely rough terrain that has prevented firefighters from attacking the blaze directly on the ground.
Instead they are focused on protecting homes and other structures in town, a quiet remnant of the rowdy silver boomtown of the 1890s. Many of the 350 firefighters now assigned to the silver fire are staging here with all their gear with portable water tanks and hoses ready.
Patrols roam the streets and side roads looking for any stray spot fires.
In the air tankers and helicopters were suspended for a second day when the unforgiving slopes and widely spread fire made it impossible to find a strategic and efficient place to drop water and fire retardant.
The fire began with a lightning strike on Friday on the west side of Emory Pass and since then has ridden the wind to the east.
Twenty-one miles of State Route 152 over the pass remains closed between Hillsboro in Sierra County and San Lorenzo in Grant County.
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