Firefighters make progress on Bluewater and Dienier Canyon Fires in New Mexico

Above: Operations Section Chief Rocky Gilbert. Screenshot from Incident Management Team video.

On Monday firefighters were able to hold some of the perimeter on two fires in western New Mexico, the Bluewater and Diener Canyon Fires, which have burned 2,532 and 6,682 acres respectively.

Soon after it started April 12 there were reports that the Diener Canyon Fire started from an escaped prescribed fire on the Cibola National Forest. Then on April 15 the Forest Service issued a statement saying “the exact cause of the Diener Canyon Fire is currently being investigated.” Today, April 16, the Forest Service is reporting that “fire investigators have determined that multiple spot fires from the Redondo Prescribed Burn started the Diener Canyon Fire”.

The Diener Canyon Fire is burning on Mount Sedgwick within an old fire scar from 2004. The Bluewater fire is approximately 4 miles north of the Diener Canyon Fire on Salitre Mesa.

Sunday firefighters continued the burnout operation on the east flank of the Diener Canyon Fire, along Forest Road (FR) 425. The burnout resulted in a wide containment line, as six to ten inch flames slowly consumed light to moderate forest vegetation. This line is designed to prevent any fire from moving to the east toward Bluewater Village and La Jara subdivision.

Fire crews completed confinement lines on the northwest corner of the Bluewater Fire, stopping movement of fire toward Bluewater Acres, but fire remained active in windrows of uprooted juniper trees on the north side of the fire. A heavy helicopter dropped water on burning vegetation, assisting firefighters as they suppressed the flames.

Monday crews planned to continue the burnout along FR 425 east of the Diener Canyon Fire, bringing the containment line south to tie in to FR 480. Firefighters will patrol and mop up along FR 178, and may use aerial ignition to clean up unburned areas if necessary, weather permitting. Structure Protection crews will continue assessing prevention needs. Fire is still active on the northeast corner, and helicopters will be used to keep the fire in check, weather permitting.

Below is a video update for both fires by Operations Section Chief Rocky Gilbert. It was posted on Monday, April 16.

Five wildfires in New Mexico burn total of 19 structures

Initially reported to be an escaped prescribed fire, officials now say the Diener Fire is under investigation

Above: Map showing the location of the Diener Canyon Fire between Grants and Gallup, New Mexico at 3:48 a.m. MDT April 15, 2018.

Five large fires in New Mexico have burned 19 structures and over 57,000 acres.

Now that the wildfire activity in Arizona and New Mexico is increasing, firefighting resources from across the country are arriving to assist the local agencies and departments.

The fire responsible for 16 of the destroyed structures, the “246 Fire“, is five miles north of Capitan and is  being managed by New Mexico State Forestry. It started April 12 but the spread has slowed to creeping. Crews are working on mopup and rehab.

Soon after it made the news the reported cause of the Diener Canyon Fire on the Cibola National Forest was an escaped prescribed fire, but now officials are saying “the exact cause of the Diener Canyon fire is currently being investigated.” John Pierson’s Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing the 6,106-acre Diener Canyon Fire and the nearby Blue Water Fire which has blackened 1,000 acres also on the Cibola National Forest. The cause of the Blue Water Fire is an abandoned campfire. Both of these fires started April 12, 2018.

The spread of the 2,644-acre Rattlesnake Fire five miles north of Capitan has also slowed.

The “206 Fire” burning in both New Mexico and Texas has destroyed three structures, including at least one residence.