ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Residents and business owners will be allowed to return to the small, privately run ghost town of Mogollon on Monday as fire crews battling the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s recorded history continued to make progress.
The town was evacuated on May 26 as extreme wind fueled the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, now at 377 square miles.
The Catron County sheriff’s office decided to lift the evacuation order on Monday because crews were able to build some containment lines on the fire’s western flank, Tara Ross, a spokeswoman for crews fighting the fire, said Sunday.
The ghost town, a former mining camp that operates as a historic attraction, will open to the public again on Wednesday.
Ross said that milder weather on Sunday and in upcoming days should allow firefighters to increase containment. “It isn’t getting any worse at this point,’’ Ross said.
The community of Willow Creek, on the fire’s northern flank, remained evacuated because Ross said containment lines there were not as strong.
Although the more than 1,200 firefighters on the blaze were making progress, there is no projection for when it may be fully under control.
The Whitewater-Baldy fire has destroyed a dozen cabins while burning in the Gila National Forest. A pair of lightning-sparked fires grew together to form the massive blaze.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring endangered Mexican gray wolves that live north and east of the fire.