- Associated Press - Thursday, July 6, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on wildfires burning in New Mexico (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Crews are reporting good progress in constructing a fire line and using natural barriers to begin containing a wildfire at the top of a mountain range bordering Albuquerque.

The fire is burning in heavy mixed conifer fuels approximately three-quarters of a mile north of the communication towers on the Sandia Crest. But fire officials say no structures are immediately threatened.

The fire is estimated to be about 20 acres since being reported Thursday morning.

No residential evacuations have been initiated.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but authorities say lightning is suspected.

Helicopters are making water drops while crews are monitoring the flames from the ground.

____

3:25 p.m.

A wildfire burning in steep terrain has forced the closure of a popular viewing spot at the top of a mountain range bordering New Mexico’s most populous city.

Law enforcement officers have blocked off the state road that leads to Sandia Crest and have evacuated the Sandia Crest viewing area due to the fire, which has charred an estimated 20 acres (8 hectares) since being reported Thursday morning.

The Sandia Crest Trail north of the Crest House also is closed.

The smoke can be seen from Albuquerque and the surrounding area.

The fire is burning less than a mile north of communication towers at the top of the mountain, but officials say no structures were immediately threatened.

Helicopters are making water drops while crews are monitoring the flames from the ground.

___

10 a.m.

Crews are battling a new wildfire near Sandia Crest.

Authorities were flooded with 911 calls from Albuquerque residents early Thursday as the column of smoke could be seen from the city. The fire was first reported about 7 a.m. and had burned a couple of acres by midmorning.

Forest officials say the flames are less than a mile north of the communication towers on the crest.

Several crews with the U. S. Forest Service and Bernalillo County are on scene. They’re getting help from two helicopters.

Cibola National Forest spokeswoman Donna Nemeth says the fire is burning in mixed conifer in an area with a lot of dead and down woody debris.

The fire has forced the closure of the Sandia Crest Trail north of the Crest House.

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