Wildfires
12:25 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

The Future Of Wildfires Depends On Mother Nature

Lightning strikes near Silver City, NM.
Lightning strikes near Silver City, NM.
Credit Avelino Maestas via Flickr

With each dry thunderstorm that moves across New Mexico, the chance of another wildfire breaking out goes up.

Crews are battling a handful of blazes in the Santa Fe National Forest, on private land near Whites Peak and in rugged territory in southern New Mexico.

The flames are being fueled by overcrowded forests, the terrain and dry conditions.

However, New Mexico State University wildland fire management specialist Doug Cram says the wind hasn't been as big of a factor. In 2011 and 2012, the state broke records with three massive wind-driven wildfires.

Weekend Weather Could Slow Fire Growth

The National Weather Service is predicting some showers and thunderstorms this weekend across Northern and Central New Mexico with the greatest chance for rain today and tonight. 

But, experts say it's the wind that will help determine whether the state has another record season.

Thompson Ridge Fire 

New Mexico's largest wild fire so far this season is 75 percent contained. Crews are finding and mopping up hot spots in the interior of the Thompson Ridge fire burning in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountians. The area has seen some rain which is helping to calm the blaze. 

Silver Fire

The Silver Fire is still threatening the evacuated town of Kingston in southwestern New Mexico. State Fire Information Officer Dan Ware says residents will likely NOT be able to return home this weekend.

"Crews are going to focus on what we call point protection," Ware says, "standing by structures and making sure the fire doesn't get to them." The area near Kingston is very steep and rugged and that, combined with hot dry weather, makes for difficult fire fighting conditions. 

Jaroso Fire

The wildfire burning in the Pecos Wilderness that flared up and caused a daunting plume of smoke to fill the air north of Santa Fe on Monday is burning in terrain that is so rugged, fire crews have been unable to do much other than drop some water in some areas. 

The Jaroso Fire sent a huge cloud of smoke into the air Tuesday as it burnt through areas of dead and downed trees.
The Jaroso Fire sent a huge cloud of smoke into the air Tuesday as it burnt through areas of dead and downed trees.
Credit Deborah Martinez

The Jaroso Fire is still blazing uncontained and fire behavior has been extreme.

"The Type 1 Incident Management Team is putting together a strategy on where they can put ground forces in safely," Fire Information Officer Dan Ware explains, "They'll start creating what we call anchor points, the fire crews will start at those and go in different directions building containment lines as they can." 

New Lightning Caused Fire

New Mexico's newest wildfire was reported Thursday about 14 miles from Cimarron and has caused the evacuation of 100 boy scouts from the nearby Philmont Scout Camp. "We'll have quite a number of fire engines, hand crews, aviation resources, hitting this fire this weekend," Ware says.

The Whites Peak fire was sparked by lightning and is burning on heavily forested private land. So far it is zero percent contained and has burnt approximately 900 acres. Several structures are threatened but none have been damaged. 

Tres Lagunas Fire

New Mexico's largest wild fire so far this season is 75 percent contained. Crews are finding and mopping up hot spots in the interior of the Thompson Ridge fire that's burning in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountians. The area has seen some rain which is helping to calm the blaze.