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Flames nearly claimed more than a dozen structures at the Silver City, N.M., KOA campground late last week in the area’s 69th wildfire of the season, according to a report in the Silver City Sun-News.
The fire began near homes at a nearby trailer park. Northeasterly winds of 15 to 20 mph pushed the fire more than 200 yards within minutes, threatening motorhomes and campers at the campground.
Gary Benavidez, assistant district forester for the agency’s Socorro District, said the fire burned nearly 25 acres of desert grass and juniper and could have spread much farther.
KOA staff had cut a 20-foot fire break around the campsite property more than a week ago. Firefighters on scene said the break saved motorhomes and campers and gave them precious seconds needed to head off the fire.
“When it hit the fire break, the flames died to a crawl,” said Clyde Hedgecoth, a KOA staff member. “We were out stomping out the flames as best we could.”
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to nearly 25 acres within an hour, but dozens were still on-site stamping out hot spots two hours after the fire began.
John and Marie Sterle had the flames come within 20 feet of their motorhome. John Sterle helped fight the fire while fire crews were in route.
“It was scary,” Marie Sterle said.
Benavidez said the fire was a prime example of how home defense measures can saves homes. He added it is unclear if the fire was intentional, but said he believes it was human-caused because of the proximity of the fire’s origin to the trailer park.