ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Biologists are trying to save a threatened trout species in southwestern New Mexico, even as crews around the West struggle to contain blazes that have charred hundreds of square miles of forested countryside.
The concern is that after the fires, summer rains could choke waterways with ash, soil and charred debris. A team is using electroshocking devices to temporarily stun the Gila (HEE'-luh) trout. The fish are then scooped up and ferried to a hatchery in northern New Mexico for safe keeping.
The fish wranglers are focusing on small creeks deep within the perimeter of the Whitewater-Baldy fire. The blaze has charred more than 450 square miles of the forest. It's the largest in New Mexico's history and is 63 percent contained.
Crews are also battling fires in Arizona, Alaska, Washington and Colorado. So far this year, fires have scorched more than 1 million acres across the county.
Nearly 1,400 firefighters are working the 84-square-mile High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colo. Officials there say at least 112 homes have been damaged or destroyed already and the number is expected to grow.
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