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New Mexico wildfire burns several homes near 2 towns

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MANZANO, N.M. (AP) -- Crews got a break from the weather Tuesday as they battled a wildfire that had destroyed nine homes in central New Mexico's Manzano mountains.

"The weather overnight was quite calm and the wind died down," said Dan Bastion, a public information officer. That was expected to continue Tuesday, he said, allowing fire crews to strengthen containment lines.

The fire destroyed nine outbuildings and two recreational vehicles. Officials could not say whether anyone had been living in the homes. No injuries were reported.

It had covered 4,130 acres, or nearly 6.5 square miles, and was 27 percent contained, Bastion said.

A voluntary evacuation notice for the communities of Manzano and Torreon was lifted Tuesday, said John Cordova, Torrance County emergency manager. Officials had urged people to leave about 130 homes around the towns as the fire doubled in size from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning, but few people left.

The blaze began April 15 in the Cibola National Forest on the west side of the Manzanos, then moved onto private land and toward the two communities.

By Tuesday, flames were about 1 mile west of Manzano and 1.5 to 2 miles northwest of Torreon.

The fire started a week ago, closing Capilla Peak and threatening communications towers and a University of New Mexico observatory.

The cause of the blaze had not been pinned down. "We're quite confident it was human-caused," Bastion said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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