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New Mexico Wildfire: Firefighters Save Some Homes From Blaze

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This Tuesday, May 22, 2012, photo, provided by David Thornburg shows a plume of smoke rising from the Whitewater fire burning in the Gila Wilderness east of Glenwood, N.M. Fire managers said the blaze had charred more than 10,000 acres before merging Wednesday afternoon with the nearby 11,500-acre Baldy fire. Both fires were sparked by lightning. (AP Photo/David Thornburg) | AP

By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, N.M., May 25 (Reuters) - Firefighters managed to protect the remaining homes in a southwestern New Mexico subdivision overnight, but some outlying buildings were engulfed by flames from a fire that burned on rough mountain terrain near the Arizona border.

Two fires merged in the Gila National Forest on Thursday and consumed 12,000 additional acres (4,856 hectares) overnight, bringing the total burn area to 82,252 acres (33,286 hectares) with none of it contained, said Public Information Officer Iris Estes.

Estes said firefighters were able to build fire lines toward the north, and expected gusty winds of 15 to 28 miles per hour (24 to 45 kph) to move the flames in that direction by midday.

Efforts overnight managed to preserve the more than 45 remaining vacation homes in the area. A total of twelve homes and 13 outlying buildings have been destroyed so far, Estes said.

"The fire is still burning in the subdivision, but they did a good job of getting in there and getting some structure protection in there," Estes said.

Estes said the fire "spread out and moved in all directions" as it burned late Thursday, which allowed firefighters to get closer to the blaze and build fire lines with bulldozers.

"It didn't make a run in any one direction, so we're hoping it will continue to do that today," she said.

More than 500 people are currently fighting the blaze. Voluntary evacuations were in effect for the nearby town of Mogollon. (Editing by Greg McCune and Vicki Allen)

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