Hermits Peak / Calf Canyon Fire grows to 160,000 acres

Map Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires
Map, Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires at 4:38 a.m. MDT May 4, 2022.

Air tankers and helicopters assisting firefighters Tuesday provided an opportunity to engage aggressively on the ground. Structure protection, line construction and firing operations continued Wednesday.

The fire has grown to 160,104 acres and has destroyed 170 residences and 117 other structures.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires, including the most recent, click HERE.

Six Structure Protection Groups across the fire have been focusing on removing fuels, constructing line, and deploying other protection measures around homes and communities.

Map south side of Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires
Map south side of Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires at 4:38 a.m. MDT May 4, 2022.

Crews continue to conduct firing operations to remove fuel between containment lines and the uncontrolled fire edge to control portions of fire. One of the largest is on the south end of the fire west of Las Vegas. It began near the Bradner Reservoir and worked south past Luna Community College down to Highway 283, a distance of 5.3 miles.

Firefighters are removing fuel along the north side of Highway 283 in case the fire comes down that far. This will also facilitate using the highway to anchor a firing operation if needed to keep the fire north of the highway.

Map Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires
Map north side of Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fires at 4:38 a.m. MDT May 4, 2022.

On the north side of the fire a dozer line was constructed south of Cleveland and Mora from which crews burned out to help protect the communities.

A zoomable evacuation map is available online.

The weather forecast for Thursday indicates that the wind speeds will be lower than they have been for several days, 17 mph out of the west-northwest with relative humidity in the low teens. Friday will be similar, with slightly stronger winds from the west. The strong winds will return Saturday through Tuesday, out of the west and southwest. The speeds will be in the high 20s gusting close to 40 mph with single digit humidity.

Aviation resources include large and very large air tankers, 14 helicopters, and six water-scooping air tankers. The scooper planes are obtaining water at Lake Isabel which is on private property.

Other resources on the fire include 104 engines and 23 hand crews for a total of 1,208 personnel.

In the video below a firefighter ignites a burning operation near Highway 283.

Below Air Tanker 910, a DC-10, makes a drop after the lead plane marks the spot with smoke. @Ten_Tanker said the video was by @rightturnsonly.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Hermits Peak / Calf Canyon Fire grows to 160,000 acres”

  1. The Santa Fe forest service is now living on wildland fire dollars. I would assume that most of their staff is charging their time to the fires. What will they do with the excess money, return it, not likely. Why start another fire or two, to try to take away the attention of a prescribed fire that has gone bad. Someone has to know about that. The tort claims will soon start filing in. The NM governor has had success in a fed disaster declaration on this also because it was ignited by the FS. NO end in sight though, just 1 type 1 team that just cannot manage a fire in steep terrain and heavy fuels. Poor people loose their homes and the FS doesn’t care. They should have had TWO type 1 teams on this fire so they could have been able to manage it. I guess even the type 1 teams must be conceded. Let the tax payers dollars roll. I would say over a billion dollars, maybe more when its all done.

    1. I work for the FS and yes we do care about people losing homes and weve been putting ourselves at tremendous risk to save what we can. I’m not in the team but I can tell they’re doing everything they can to squash this – if you’ve been paying attention than you understand the extreme conditions we are working in.

      1. Joe,
        Please do tell. Word on the street is that Calf is an escaped pile Rx that was originally ignited a few days prior to Gallinas. Word on the street is, when Hermits was still a T3 incident, a new start was detected and tankers were diverted to paint it. Word on the street is that it sat for a few days until the second big wind event blew it back out. Word on the street is that the origin of Calf is exactly where the pile burn unit and retardant was.

        Now, I know that the FS is sticking with the default of “under investigation” but, if they really do care, will they come clean if the investigation indeed points to the words on the street so that the affected can seek recompense? Will they drag their feet on the investigation and release results long after things have calmed down in an attempt to avoid immediate additional outrage? I truly hope the words on the street are wrong but, if they are borne out, will the all-caring FS take their licks and pay the tort claims without a protracted legal battle?

        As you mentioned, you guys have also been subjected to a lot of risk trying to turn the corner on that thing. I pray that you all stay safe and don’t assume additional/unreasonable risk for the agency in order to help them “squash it”. Do your thing, LCES, structure protection, but please don’t hang it too far out in order to save the desperate FS from having to face the music. You are too valuable, they are beyond salvation and the music is getting louder. Take care and Godspeed.

  2. Man, between Cerro Grande, Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak, the Santa Fe NF is like the 2017 Cleveland Browns of Rx fire.

    I feel for the folks losing homes/property over this catastrophe and I hope they sue the FS into oblivion over this so that they can be made whole again, well…as whole as they can be made after an event like this.

    1. Just to help you out a bit – the Cerro Grande was a park service rx. Calf canyon was never and rx, the cause is under investigation, Hemits Peak fire was the converted Las Dispensas prescribed fire off the Pecos Ranger District SFNF. Many people are losing everything they own as a result of this.

  3. Mr. Bill Gabbert, thank you for your consistent, professional, informative daily account of our new normal world of fire! You have calmed my nerves so many times when I know the fires that are going on are far away from my loved ones – or are not going in their direction! You are a gift and a blessing to the world! God bless you and all firefighters and first responders in the world! Stay safe, everyone!


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