Dog Head Fire continues to spread to the east near Chilili, New Mexico

(UPDATE at 1:47 p.m. MDT June 19, 2016)

Tanker 160 drops on Dog Head Fire
Air tanker 160, an RJ85, drops on the Dog Head Fire in New Mexico. Undated InciWeb photo.

The Dog Head fire, 3 miles north of Tajique, New Mexico, continued to spread to the east over the last two days, adding approximately 1,500 acres, to bring the size up to 17,617 acres. The fire is working its way through fingers of timber on ridges that are separated by grassy areas in the flatter ground in between the ridges.

Weather forecast Dog Head Fire
Weather forecast for the Dog Head Fire area. NWS. Click to enlarge.

Higher humidity moderated fire behavior on Saturday but the forecast for Sunday includes 13 percent RH, temperature about 90 degrees, and wind out of the southeast at 9 mph. Weather forecasters expect 14 mph southwest winds on Monday with slightly higher humidity.

Map Dog Head Fire
Map of the Dog Head Fire at 4 a.m. MDT June 19, 2016 (the red line). The white line is from 3:30 a.m. MDT June 17, 2016. Click to enlarge.

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(UPDATE at 8:35 p.m. MDT June 17, 2016)

The Dog Head Fire 17 miles southeast of Albuquerque was less active on Friday than on previous days. This was due in part to lighter winds and the fact that in some areas on the east side the fire has spread beyond the timber into much lighter fuels where it can be attacked more successfully by firefighters and aircraft.

A satellite overflight at 1:30 p.m. on Friday detected very few heat sources. But stronger winds in the late afternoon may have changed that situation.

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(UPDATED at 6:42 a.m. MDT June 17, 2016)

Map Dog Head fire
Map of the perimeter of the Dog Head fire at 3:30 a.m. MDT June 17, 2016.

The incident management team reports that 24 single residences and 21 other minor structures have been destroyed in the Dog Head Fire near Chilili, New Mexico.

On Thursday the fire continued to push towards the east and northeast toward Chilili Land Grant. Approximately 16,000 acres have burned, according to the IMT.

Hot, dry and unstable weather is in the forecast from Friday into the weekend.


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(UPDATED at 7:56 p.m. MDT June 16, 2016)

According to the incident management team running the Dog Head Fire 17 miles southeast of Albuquerque, Wednesday night the fire exhibited extreme fire behavior until 1:00 a.m. It pushed 10 to 12 miles toward the northeast approaching the community of Chilili. Structures were lost in that area but it is unknown how many. It will take time to safely access that location due to the fire intensity.

At 1 p.m.. on Thursday fire officials reported it had burned 12,303 acres. Evacuations have been ordered for parts of Bernalillo and Torrance Counties.

The Southwest Incident Management Team 1 is being mobilized for the fire. They will inbrief at 10 a.m. on Friday.

The map below indicates that for the 12 hours before 1:55 p.m. MDT on Thursday there was not a great deal of additional spread. But the heat of the burning period was just beginning at that time.

Map Mad Dog Fire
Map of the Dog Head Fire showing heat data acquired by a satellite at 1:55 p.m. MDT June 16, 2016. The red dots represent heat within the 12 hours before 1:55 p.m.

Below is the weather forecast for the fire area. For Friday and Saturday it calls for temperatures around 90, a 15 mph wind on Friday slowing to 7 mph on Saturday, 6 percent relative humidity, and no chance of rain. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Weather Forecast Dog Head Fir

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(UPDATED at 8 a.m. MDT June 16, 2016)

map Dog Head Fire
Map of the Dog Head Fire, with heat data acquired by a satellite at 2:36 a.m. MDT June 16, 2016 (the red dots). The white line was the fire perimeter at about 9 p.m. MDT June 15. Click to see a larger version.

The above map of the Dog Head Fire includes updated data from a heat sensing satellite acquired at 2:36 a.m. MDT June 16. It shows a large amount of fire spread from the perimeter (the white line) that was mapped at about 9 p.m. MDT on June 15. Our very unofficial estimate reveals that the fire has burned at least 11,000 acres.

The spread during the five hour period after 9 p.m. indicates that the wind shifted from the southwest to the west.

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(Originally published at 7:04 a.m. MDT, June 16, 2016)

map dog head fire
Map of the Dog Head Fire at about 9 p.m. MDT June 15, 2016.

A fire that started Tuesday was pushed by strong winds Wednesday forcing the evacuation of the 39 residents of Chilili, New Mexico and other areas in Bernalillo and Torrance Counties. The 30 mph southwest wind caused the fire to spread to the northeast toward Highways 337 and 217. Flame lengths of 100 feet were observed along with spot fires occurring ½ mile ahead of the main fire.

At 9 p.m. MDT Wednesday the fire had burned more than 5,000 acres and had spread to within 3 miles of Chilili, was less than a mile west of Highway 337, and 17 miles southeast of Albuquerque.

Structure protection is ongoing in Chilili. On Wednesday airtankers made over 50 drops of fire retardant and 4 helicopters made numerous water drops throughout the fire area in an effort to protect a number of resources including communities.

Photo by Donald Wetterman #dogheadfire

A photo posted by M.L Smith (@owlsheneeds) on

Thursday morning KRQE reported visual confirmation of at least one structure that has burned in the fire.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the fire area on Thursday for 20 to 25 mph southwest winds gusting to 35 mph. The relative humidity will be 5 to 10 percent.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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One thought on “Dog Head Fire continues to spread to the east near Chilili, New Mexico”

  1. OK, the mandatory evacuation continues east of Hwy 217 and Martinez/Plant Roads Saturday. What are the boundaries? No one seems to know. What a bureaucratic boondoggle.

    Are certain routes targeted, such as everything south of Martinez/Ballenger Ranch Roads? Or is the closure so ambiguous to include everything east to the Atlantic Ocean?

    Awaiting answers!

    Bob N, NM East Mountain Resident

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