KUNM

Fire

Courtesy of Jill Werhane of Miami, N.M.

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.

Young Scientists Measure Wildfire Threat

Jul 8, 2016
City of Albuquerque / Creative Commons via Flickr

For the folks beating back flames during New Mexico’s dry season, knowing the science behind fire behavior can save lives and property. Members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) are collecting information on fuel loads, which are the amount of wood on a forest floor that could sustain a fire. The hope is that the data will help firefighters predict the direction and intensity of a blaze.

Daphne Carrillo

UPDATE Wednesday, 29, 11:00 a.m.: The Dog Head Fire is 91 percent contained. A total of 12 residences and 44 minor structures have been damaged. The U.S. Forest Service says the wildfire was human-started, but they are still investigating how it happened.

Preparing For Climate Change In New Mexico

Apr 17, 2016
Kari Greer / US Forest Service Gila National Forest

KUNM Call In Show 4/21 8a: 

You probably noticed that this February and March were much warmer and drier than normal. In fact, this year New Mexico got only 12 percent of the rainfall it usually gets in March. The unusually warm weather prompted mountain snow to melt faster and earlier than usual, while winds whipped up wild fires, stripping land that then becomes vulnerable to flooding.

Officials: Air In Underground Nuclear Waste Facility Is Safe, Fire Is Out

Feb 5, 2014
Department of Energy / Creative Commons

UPDATE 5:30p 2/6: Work has resumed at southeastern New Mexico's nuclear waste repository. But officials say they don't yet know what caused the truck fire that forced an evacuation of the underground site.

A spokesman says an investigation will be conducted at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where low level waste from the nation's nuclear weapons plants is stored in salt beds.

The site was evacuated and six people were treated for smoke inhalation after a truck hauling salt caught fire Wednesday.

Officials to close bosque in three counties

Jun 27, 2012
Rooth Dragon via Flickr

High fire danger has prompted officials to close the wooded area along the Rio Grande in Sandoval, Valencia and Socorro counties.

The closure will take effect Friday morning. The area will remain closed until further notice.

With a full closure, all paths and ditch roads near the bosque will be off limits.

Officials with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District say law enforcement and fire agencies in the three counties will be working to enforce the closure order.

Sentencing reset for men in Arizona wildfire case

Jun 18, 2012

The sentencing hearing for two cousins charged with accidentally causing the largest wildfire in Arizona history has been reset.

Caleb Malboeuf and David Malboeuf were scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Flagstaff.

Defense attorneys say they need more time to prepare arguments in support of probation with substantial community service.

The Malboeufs each face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. The new sentencing date is Aug. 22.

Gila fire prompts rescue of threatened fish

Jun 18, 2012

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.

Report Examines Human Caused Fires in Arizona

Nov 28, 2011
Photo via www.pixdaus.com

The Government Accountability Office has released a report showing that only a fraction of human-caused fires in Arizona were investigated in the past five years. Of those, illegal border crossers may have started almost half.

But as Michel Marizco reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk,  the author of the report says the data she used for the study is far from complete.

Wildfire Programs Could See Cuts Under Senate Proposal

Nov 28, 2011
Photto via www.bowling-naturaldisasters.wiki.westga.edu

There's a proposal in a U.S. Senate committee to cut funding for a program which helps reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in places like New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Texas. Ruxandra Guidi reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk.