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Fire Crews Use Aluminized Protective Wrap To Protect Historic Gila Cabins

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Miller Fire, still burning in the Gila National Forest about 25 miles north of Silver City, had consumed an estimated 86,600 acres and is now 66 percent contained after burning nearly a month, the U.S. Forest Service said today.

Today’s plans include containing the Miller Fire at the West Fork of the Gila River and shifting resources to the northwest and western flanks of the fire, The Associated Press reported.

Crews will patrol and mop up the fire as it backs into the West Fork. Line construction will begin in the Diablo Range area and continue to Turkey Creek.

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, higher winds and warmer temperatures are expected on the fire lines.

But since the Miller Fire is burning in an area where numerous fires — ranging in size from a few hundred acres to more than 100,000 acres — have burned since 1980, firefighters working on the Miller Fire are benefiting from the suppression work as a result of these past fires, reported this week.

Accordingly, fire officials said, the Miller Fire is not producing the catastrophic effects seen where forests are thick and heavy with fuels and firefighters are better able to contain what is being described as a moderate intensity burn, said.

According to, when strong winds pushed flames from the Miller Fire toward two historic cabins in the Gila last week, fire crews hiked to White Creek Cabin, north of McKenna Park, and Prior Cabin, north of Woodland Park, and covered the cabins with an aluminized wrapping which reflects most of the radiant heat away from the structures.

Firefighters also removed excessive vegetation from around the cabins as an added protective measure, fire officials said.

The reflective wrapping, which comes in a large roll, is similar to the foil-like material used to make a fire shelter — a fold-out protective shield for firefighters to use as a last resort when overtaken by fire, said.

The White Creek log cabin was built by the state of New Mexico in 1933 as part of a fish hatchery and was transferred to the Gila National Forest in 1937 for use as the McKenna Park Ranger Station until 1954, and is still in use today by wilderness trail, fire and resource crews.

Prior Cabin was built in 1955 by the state of New Mexico and is used jointly by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Gila National Forest for administration of the Gila Wilderness.