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May 21, 2013 12:08 PM by Erika Flores

Patagonia residents on edge over Soldier Basin Fire

NOGALES - The "Soldier Basin Fire" is still growing in the Coronado National Forest about five miles east of the Nogales airport.

Around 200 firefighters are battling the blaze that started Friday night.

So far, more than 3,100 acres are scorched and only 5 percent contained.

Fire managers said nearby residents shouldn't be alarmed if they see the fire continue to spread because that is part of the plan, but that plan has some of those residents worried.

"Everyone is (concerned)," said Paul Smith, Patagonia resident.

Residents of Patagonia, just a few miles from the fire, can't help but wonder just how far this fire will spread.

"The one thing that I'm worried about is the wind here," said Carlos Mingura, Patagonia resident.

Fire managers said the wind is pushing smoke east of the fire.

"During the day it could lift and clear out and go over some of these local areas but especially in the evening hours smoke tends to settle and cool overnight," said Soldier Basin Wildfire PIO Michelle Fidler.

As for concerns that the wind will spread the fire out of control, firefighters have been camped out at the Nogales International Airport Since Saturday to make sure that doesn't happen.

"I'm pretty confident in them," said Anastasia Lucero, Patagonia resident.

Firefighters have been fighting the fire on the ground and from above.

"I think they'll put it out," said Lucero.

The human caused fire has been spreading quickly.

"I think everybody needs to be very vigilant. Everything is very dry at the moment particularly on campsites, said tourist Chris Oldershow, "people need to be very careful about making sure their fires are out at night."

Fire crews are intentionally setting little fires on ridge tops hoping to maneuver the fire to areas where it will be easier to fight way from steep terrain.

The closest home to the fire is a mile and a half away, but crews said the fire isn't spreading in that direction.

Crews are dropping balls that look like ping pong balls that have a flammable substance inside.

They inject it with antifreeze and toss it from a helicopter into the fire in form of a line to help slow down the fire and concentrate the flames.

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