KUNM

Ute Park Fire 92 Percent Contained

Jun 1, 2018

UPDATE 6/12 7p: The Ute Park Fire is now 92 percent contained and containment lines are holding around the fire as of Monday. Some smoke and flames may be visible in coming weeks until there's rain, but the burning won't cause the fire to grow, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. 

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UPDATE 6/9 7a: The evacuation orders for residents of Ute Park were lifted Friday, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. The Ute Park Fire is now 77 percent contained as it burns through pockets of vegetation within the perimeters of the fire. Crews will be patrolling and chipping up debris from thinning operations. Some firefighters are being reassigned to other incidents. 

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UPDATE 6/8 8a: Firefighters have corralled the Ute Park Fire on its western edge although Ute Park remains evacuated. The fire has consumed 36,740 acres and is 66 percent contained. Its still producing some smoke that is affecting Cimarron and surrounding areas. According to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, no homes have been burned but 219 are still threatened.

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UPDATE 6/6 7a: Growth of the Ute Park Fire has slowed as hot shot crews work directly on the western flank of the fire. Helicopters are dropping water, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, and no additional structures have been destroyed after the 14 that burnt at the Philmont Scout Ranch last week. The fire is now 30 percent contained. 

Ute Park remains under mandatory evacuation while residents of Cimarron were allowed to return to their homes on Monday. 

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UPDATE 6/4 5p: : The Ute Park fire in northeastern New Mexico spans more than 36,000 and remains about 23 percent contained. Sunday’s rain stalled the fire’s growth but didn’t stop it. The cause is still under investigation.

State Forestry Division spokesperson Wendy Mason said the good news is that lightning from the weekend’s storms did not start any new fires. But the forecast this week shows no rain in the area. "It’ll probably be going for a couple of weeks because it is so large and there is still a lot of dry fuel out there," Mason said.

People were allowed to return home to the village of Cimarron in phases on Monday afternoon, but the evacuation order was still in place for Ute Park, and the blaze was threatening 219 homes there.

It’s likely the blaze will move west, Mason said. Because most of the state is experiencing dry conditions, it’s been a busy fire season so far, she said, and there’s still a ways to go.

UPDATE 6/4 8a: The Ute Park Fire grew to 36,083 acres and was 23 percent contained as of Sunday night, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. No residences have been burned. On May 31, fourteen outbuildings at the Philmont Scout Ranch burned. A mandatory evacuation order is still in effect for the Cimmaron area and 550 structures are still threatened by the fire. 

There will be a community meeting in Angle Fire Monday, June 4, at 4:00 p.m. It will be livestreamed on Facebook

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UPDATE 6/3 11a: The Ute Park Fire grew to nearly 32,000 acres overnight Saturday, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. Strong storms are in the forecast Sunday afternoon and evening, raising concerns about flash flooding on burn scars. Lightning could spark more fires and crews are prepared to respond. 

Burnout operations on the fire's eastern and southern areas were successful in protecting the Village of Cimarron, according to Sunday's update from NMSF. You can sign up to receive email updates on the fire here. You can also check out a map of the Ute Fire.

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UPDATE 6/2 12p: The Ute Park Fire doubled in size overnight Friday to 27,290 acres. It is still zero percent contained and officials say shifting winds could fan the blaze into treetops and carry embers up to a mile away where they could start new fires.

Smoke from the fire will reduce visibility to under a mile in places and create health hazards, especially for young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with respiratory illnesses. The National Weather Service is advising that outdoor activity in areas between Las Vegas and Raton be minimized. 

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A fire had consumed 16,500 acres of private land in Ute Park in northeastern New Mexico as of Friday afternoon. It was not contained at all yet, and rain was not forecasted in the area until Sunday. The Village of Cimarron and Ute Park were given a mandatory order to evacuate. The blaze was threatening almost 300 buildings in the area.

A dozen outbuildings at the Philmont Scout Ranch were destroyed by the fire. Two Red Cross evacuation shelters have been set up, at the Eagle Nest Senior Center and at the Raton Convention Center.

The fire started the afternoon of Thursday, May 31 around 2 p.m. on private land, and the cause is still under investigation, according to State Forestry Division spokesperson Wendy Mason. "The conditions are extremely dry," she said. "We have had no snow, hardly any rain. Conditions are just ripe right now for a fire just like this."

Mason said there have not been any recent forest-thinning measures or controlled burns in the area.

Cimarron Canyon State Park is closed to keep the roadway clear for fire equipment. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is open, but the lake itself is closed so helicopters can draw water from it. Highway 64 between Eagle Nest and Cimarron will remain closed for the duration of the fire.

Many agencies are helping the state fight the blaze, including federal, local and volunteer fire departments.