Ute Park Fire spreading very rapidly in northeast New Mexico

The weather forecast for Friday afternoon indicates the potential for very rapid growth of this dangerous fire near Cimarron

map Ute Park Fire

Above: Map showing the location of the Ute Park Fire at 2:23 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018. Wildfire Today.

(UPDATED at 2:31 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018)

Fire officials report that the Ute Park fire, burning on private land on both sides of Highway 64 in Northeast New Mexico, has burned an estimated 16,500 acres.  The communities of Ute Park and the Village of Cimarron are under mandatory evacuation orders.

(Originally published at 8:44 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018)

(UPDATED at 10:08 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018)

The Ute Park Fire in northeast New Mexico grew very quickly after it was reported at 2:10 p.m. MDT on Thursday 27 miles northeast of Taos. Now well established between Eagle Nest and Cimarron, it is burning on both sides of highway 64, which is closed.

The village of Cimarron (population about 900) and the area around Hummingbird Lane are under evacuation orders. There is a voluntary evacuation in place for Ute Park.

Our very unofficial estimate of the size, based on satellite data from 2:23 a.m. MDT June 1, is that at that time it had burned approximately 12,000 acres.

Ute Park Fire
Ute Park Fire as seen by a camera at Angel Fire Resort at 7:21 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018.

According to New Mexico Fire Information, approximately 12 unoccupied, non-residential structures at the Philmont Scout Ranch in the Cimarroncita area were destroyed.  Another 150 structures remain threatened.

About three hours after the first orders were placed for the fire Bea Day’s Type 1 Incident Management Team was requested. It is unusual for a Type 1 team to be ordered that soon after a fire starts, and is an indication of the rapid rate of spread and the potential of this fire. The team will in-brief at 3 p.m. on Friday.

Soon after it started two very large air tankers (VLAT) were dispatched. By the end of they day the additional aircraft orders included six large air tankers, four helicopters, and Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft.

Northeast New Mexico is under a Red Flag Warning for Friday. The forecast for the fire area, which is at 7,000 to 8,000 feet, is about as bad as it can get — sustained 25 mph southwest winds gusting between 31 and 36, temperature in the low 80s, and 6 percent relative humidity.  These conditions could be very conducive to rapid fire growth to the northeast. Depending on the exact wind direction the fire could seriously threaten Cimarron. Under these conditions it is unlikely that firefighters will be able to do much more than anchor the heel of the fire and perhaps do some structure protection where property owners have already prepared defensible space by clearing away debris and other flammable materials, and are using fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction.

(Photos of the fire are below)

The photo below was posted at 7:01 a.m. MDT on Friday.

The video below was recorded by Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft on Thursday.

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+

6 thoughts on “Ute Park Fire spreading very rapidly in northeast New Mexico”

  1. Nothing makes us more sad than a wildfire! We both have tears and a heavy heart. We pray for the safety of the fire fighters and all involved. God Bless.

  2. Please pray for the safety of all families who have had to evacuate ( Cimarron ) my home town and for the town leaders and personnel who are doing their duty and standing by their stations. Please pray also for the fire to lose its power and to be contained.

  3. So very sad to see. I’ve vacationed in that area off and on for the past 50 years and will be passing through that area in September. (if the fire is out by then!) I’ve also some close friends who live in Cimarron and I pray their home is safe.

  4. I pray for everyone, especially to -Elias (Gonzales) Family
    I LOVE YOU! We’re all Praying here in Denver

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