Track fire still active on east side, but Interstate 25 opens

Track fire 6-13-2011
Track fire 6-13-2011
Track fire 6-13-2011. Photo: New Mexico State Forestry

Interstate 25 opens

The Track fire, which required the closure of Interstate 25 at Raton, New Mexico for several days, was still active on the east side on Wednesday, but the west side has been suppressed by firefighters enough to allow the Interstate to open. The highway opened at about 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, much to the relief of drivers who had been forced to take a lengthy detour around the fire to the east of Raton.

Scroll down to see a map of the fire, which has burned 25,620 acres and is 20% contained, according to a report by the incident management team on InciWeb. Here are more details that they posted at 10 p.m. on Wednesday:

Evacuation Update: As of 5:00 p.m. today, June 15, the City of Raton has lifted the evacuation order only in the subdivisions within the city limits of Raton. Residents that are returning should be aware that it is possible that they may be put on a pre-evacuation alert should fire activity change. All remaining evacuations orders remain in place.

Fire Update: Winds were favorable on the south and west side of the fire early in the day which allowed crews to significantly mop-up and secure the burned area along the I-25 corridor. They also made considerable progress with constructing direct fire line and securing the areas near structures on the south side of the fire. All available helicopters and airtankers were utilized to a great extent on the most active areas of the fire.

Late afternoon winds and instable weather created extreme fire behavior where running, torching and crowning was observed on the east side of the fire. The fire made two significant runs to the northeast advancing 300-500 acres. Despite the increased fire activity, firefighters kept the fire from spreading south over Highway 72. Fire personnel will concentrate a considerable amount of resources on the north and east side of the fire tomorrow as a Red Flag Warning is predicted.

The weather on Thursday will not be favorable for firefighters. As you can see in the map below, Red Flag Warnings are posted for much of the Southwest for Thursday.

Red Flag warnings 6-16-2011
Red Flag warnings 6-16-2011

Here is a map of the Track fire, with a fire perimeter current as of 11:01 p.m. MT, June 15, 2011. The white line is the Colorado/New Mexico state line.

Track fire 3-D map, 2301 6-15-2011
Track fire 3-D map, 11:01 p.m. MT June 15, 2011

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+