ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Ideal conditions drove the Silver Fire through another 12,000 acres of the Black Range Friday with more wind-driven growth expected Saturday.
A Red Flag warning is in effect through 9 p.m. for strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity.
Other factors aiding the intense fire are the steep terrain and a forest already dried by drought, according to the latest update from the U.S. Forest Service.
Before Friday's expansion the fire was reported to be 20 percent contained. Weather and terrain have limited firefighters mostly to building indirect fire lines and only working the edge of the fire when safety and conditions allow.
Residents of Kingston, evacuated from their homes on June 10, were allowed to return on Friday after firefighters beat back flames on the edge of the community and built protective lines.
Twenty-one miles of State Route 152 remain closed from Hillsboro to San Lorenzo. Highways reaching San Lorenzo from the south, west and north remain open allowing access to the Gila National Forest, Gila Cliff Dwellings, City of Rocks State Park and other recreation sites.
The fire began with a lightning strike on June 7 in the southeast corner of the Gila National Forest. Since then it has burned generally northward chewing its way up the Black Range past 10,200-foot Hillsboro Peak and into the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.
Farther north in the Santa Fe National Forest fire teams are planning to ignite a burnout Sunday within the interior of the Thompson Ridge Fire. Heavy smoke is expected from the burnout into Monday as firefighters reduce fuels that could draw the fire to the summit of 11,258-foot Redondo Peak, a mountain known for cultural sites and considered sacred by pueblo people.
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