Wallow fire crosses fireline, Luna, NM evacuated

Wallow fire smoke 6-16-2011 USFS
Wallow fire smoke 6-16-2011 USFS
Smoke from the Wallow fire, June 16, 2011. USFS photo

Strong winds on Saturday caused the Wallow fire to cross the fireline along U.S. 180 west of Luna, NM and run for about four miles causing the evacuation of the town. Saturday night the fire was north of the town and had crossed Forest Road 220 between the community and the earlier fire perimeter.

The wind recorded at the Luna weather station during the big fire run on Saturday afternoon was WSW and SW at 16-19 with gusts of 35-38. Saturday’s Red Flag warning is coming in for a repeat performance Sunday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The weather forecast for Luna predicts winds out of the southwest at 32-37 mph with gusts of 47-52. The relative humidity will be in the single digits with a temperature around 80. In other words, the fire behavior on Sunday could be even more extreme than Saturday.

Here is an excerpt from an update the incident management team posted on InciWeb Sunday morning:

Strong southwest winds have caused the Wallow Fire to breach containment lines along US 180, on the east side of the fire. The town of Luna, N.M. has been evacuated. Air resources in defense of Luna were grounded yesterday due to high winds. Structural protection is in place for Luna and also in the broad Blue River drainage, where fire has become established in the San Francisco drainage, Raspberry Creek, Steeple Mesa, Quebec drainage and Horse Canyon areas. Air support began early this morning to work on objectives before the expected wind gusts arrive and air support is forced to be grounded.

InciWeb has more information about the fire and the evacuations.

The map of the east side of the Wallow fire below shows the approximate location of Saturday’s fire run near Luna. The Wallow fire Area Command has posted a map of the fire that was produced after the infrared mapping flight Saturday night. The new updated size of the fire is 511,118 acres.

Map of east side Wallow fire 6-19-2011
(Click to enlarge) Map of east side Wallow fire, showing the approximate location of the 6/18/2011 slopover.

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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.