1,200 firefighters battle record New Mexico blaze

Fire retardant is dropped on a wildfire from a plane in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, May 29, 2012. More than 1,200 firefighters are battling the nation's largest wildfire that has charred 340 square miles, or 218,000 acres, of terrain in the rugged mountains and canyons of southwestern New Mexico.
AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service, Mark Pater

(AP) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The more than 1,200 firefighters who are battling the nation's largest wildfire in rugged mountains and canyons of southwestern New Mexico are racing to build lines to corral the massive blaze.

The fire had charred more than 354 square miles by Saturday morning, and crews were bracing for more dry and windy conditions.

Fire information officer Lee Bentley says the focus is on the western edge of the Whitewater-Baldy fire.

The fire is expected to start backing down the mountains east of the community of Glenwood, and officials say residents should expect to see more smoke and flames as firefighters continue their backburn operations.

Bentley says gusts could reach close to 30 mph Saturday, resulting in active to extreme fire behavior.

The fire is about 15 percent contained.

It has charred 227,000 acres of the Gila National Forest and a dozen cabins and several outbuildings have been destroyed.

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