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Park Closes Temporarily Due To Wildfire

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

National Park News

The supervisor for the Gila National Forest asked the state to close New Mexico Highway 15 miles south of the park this past weekend due to the proximity of the week-old Miller Fire, which was approaching the small town of Gila Hotsprings. This action effectively closed the monument to visitors. It was estimated at the time that the road would have to remain closed for four to five days until the fire reached control lines and died down. USFS and NPS staff implemented previously developed contingency measures to protect the cliff dwellings and other sites within the park, including additional fuel reductions and protective measures to prevent damage to the 700-year-old wood features in the cliff dwellings. With temperatures climbing back into the 80's by the beginning of the week and winds expected to gust to 40 mph, the extremely rugged terrain in which the human-caused fire is burning is making direct control very dangerous and ineffective. The Gila National Forest will go to Stage II fire restrictions today and trails south and west of the monument will be closed when the highway reopens. Due to the nearly complete lack of moisture during the winter and spring, the extremely dry conditions are expected to permit the fire to burn until mid-summer rains arrive, typically in early July.



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