The Black Fire in southwest New Mexico 25 miles west of Truth or Consequences has grown to 228,312 acres. The movement over the last week has mostly been to the north and south.
The fire was active Friday with extended downslope pushes through drainages on the east side of the Divide, additional spread to the south through heavy dead and down fuels, and uphill runs and spotting across containment lines on the northwest flank.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect Sunday for low humidity and winds gusting up to 40 mph.
The firefighters are being led by a Type 2 incident management team, Southwest Team 3. The estimated costs to date are $16,100,000.
Evacuations are still in effect (more information) and one residence has been destroyed.
Resources assigned to the fire Saturday evening included 21 hand crews, 26 engines, and 6 helicopters for a total of 756 personnel.
The four largest active wildfires in New Mexico all continued to grow Thursday and have burned a total of more than 476,000 acres. Red Flag Warnings are in effect Friday for winds gusting from 30 to 40 mph with single digit humidity.
The 303,701-acre Calf Canyon / Hermits Peak Fire northwest of Las Vegas was subject to single digit humidity and strong winds Thursday afternoon, 10 to 20 mph with 30 to 40 mph gusts out of the west. Since the east side is somewhat secure most of the additional spread was limited to the west side, which experienced in some areas fire behavior described as “extreme, crowning, group torching, and spotting.”
The Black Fire 28 miles west-northwest of Truth or Consequences consumed more vegetation on the northwest, northeast, east, and southeast sides. Fire officials said in some places it spread for three miles, growing on the southeast side to within one or two miles of Hermosa. It has burned 104,969 acres.
Most of the spread of the 21,687-acre Bear Trap Fire 34 miles southwest of Socorro was on the south side Thursday. Hand crews are prepping and conducting tactical burning operations, some of which may be conducted by aerial ignition. Limited movement to the east off the San Mateo crest is expected due to non-continuous fuels in several recent fire scars.
The 45,605-acre Cerro Pelado Fire six miles southwest of Los Alamos has been relatively quiet for several days.
The National Weather Service has taken the unusual step of issuing a Red Flag Warning one and two days in advance for the Calf Canyon / Hermits Peak Fire 21 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The prediction is for winds gusting from the west and southwest at more than 30 mph with single digit relative humidity. Similar conditions will exist at least on Thursday for the area of the Black and Bear Trap Fires in southwest New Mexico.
Updated 12:10 p.m. MDT May 18, 2022
On Wednesday the northern half of New Mexico is under a Red Flag Warning. Isolated dry thunderstorms are predicted for portions of New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.
Red Flag Warnings Wednesday.
Chance for isolated dry thunderstorms in portions of NM, CO, & TX.
From the NWS:
“Thunderstorms are expected across portions of the central Rockies this afternoon. Storms should be dry with the potential for new lightning induced fire starts.” pic.twitter.com/kT4KwlJC27
The Calf Canyon – Hermits Peak Fire 21 miles east of Santa Fe, NM was active on the west side Tuesday, but there was very little significant activity on the east side between Mora and Las Vegas.
The Cerro Pelado Fire 25 miles west of Santa Fe was relatively quiet Tuesday. There has been no major spread for several days and a satellite was only able to detect one large heat source early Wednesday morning.
The Black Fire (see map above) 28 miles west-northwest of Truth or Consequences made another large run to the east Tuesday adding another 21,000 acres to bring the total up to 77,360. Fuel treatments and wildfires that have occurred over the last 20 years may slow any major spread to the north, west, and south, but the NIFC database shows no significant history of fire east of the incident.
Another fire in southwest New Mexico, the Bear Trap Fire, is 34 miles southwest of Socorro. It spread southwest on Tuesday and was mapped Tuesday night at 15,215 acres. The fire is surrounded by fuel treatments and prescribed natural fires on all sides except for the southwest — which is where the most of the spread has occurred during the last couple of days.
5:10 p.m. MDT May 17, 2022
High temperatures and very low humidity on Tuesday kept most of the large wildfires in New Mexico very active.
Calf Canyon – Hermits Peak Fire
The Calf Canyon – Hermits Peak Fire 21 miles east of Santa Fe has become the largest fire in the recorded history of New Mexico. At 299,565 acres it has eclipsed the previous record set by the 297,845-acre Whitewater and Baldy Fires when they burned together in May of 2012 in Southwest New Mexico. On Tuesday it was again putting up a large smoke column while a 5 to 20 mph wind gusted out of of the northwest, west, and southwest at 25 mph. The humidity dropped to 10 percent in the afternoon.
Cerro Pelado Fire
On Monday most of the fire activity on the 45,605-acre Cerro Pelado Fire was on the northwest and southeast sides. On Tuesday the fire 25 miles west of Santa Fe was putting up much less smoke than the Calf Canyon – Hermits Peak Fire, judging from the Satellite photo below taken at 3:56 p.m.
The Black Fire 31 miles north-northeast of Silver City, New Mexico is very active Monday afternoon, as seen in these photos.
10:22 a.m. MDT May 16, 2022
The Black Fire 31 miles north-northeast of Silver City, New Mexico made an impressive run to the east Sunday. Fire officials said that morning it was 1,174 acres; when it was mapped by an aircraft that night at 9:04 it had grown to 18,762 acres and was 11 miles long. Satellite data at 3:26 Monday morning indicated that it had continued to spread vigorously to the east through the night.
It is burning in timber and tall grass in the Gila National Forest 34 miles west of Interstate 25 and Truth or Consequences.
The rapid growth of the fire Sunday was due to dry fuels, relative humidity that dropped to 2 percent, and 10 mph winds gusting to 22 out of the west-southwest. The data was recorded at the Gila Center weather station.
The weather forecast for Monday near the fire at 6,800 feet calls for 18 mph winds gusting out of the southwest at 28 mph, 86 degrees, and 4 percent relative humidity — conditions that could lead to additional spread to the northeast.