A wildfire that started 18 miles southwest of Clovis, New Mexico burned into the west side of Portales destroying at least four structures Wednesday afternoon. The “267 Fire” was reported at about 12:15 p.m. south of Highway 267 between Floyd and Portales during during extremely dry, windy conditions — 82 degrees, 5 percent relative humidity, and west to northwest winds of 30 to 40 mph gusting at 45 to 54 mph.
Officials established evacuation shelters at First Baptist Church and the Portales Memorial Building, in Portales.
The fire was contained late in the afternoon. Firefighters estimated the size at approximately 1,000 acres, but our very unofficial calculation using heat detected by a satellite shows it to be over 3,000 acres.
4 homes lost from the fire burning outside Floyd. One firefighter and one civilian were injured. 50+ MPH winds made it really tough conditions. It is CONTAINED. @KOB4pic.twitter.com/pAQFd6Sr3J
Above: Photo of the truck after rolling over on the Aragon Fire, on the Santa Fe National Forest, in New Mexico; from the report.
In searching through the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned website looking for information about a dozer transport truck that rolled over while it was carrying a dozer on the Cougar Creek Fire in Washington, I ran across a few accidents we previously had not reported on. This is one of them.
On July 16, 2018 a four-door pickup truck slid off a rain-slicked road and rolled over. The accident occurred on the Aragon Fire, on the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. Below is an excerpt from the Rapid Lesson Sharing report:
…Two District fire personnel were driving Truck #1168 from the Aragon Fire to the Staging Area.
[Road] NFSR 505 contains a narrow section where the road is elevated above the natural drainage. Erosion had created a depression on the right side of the road in this narrow section.
The driver steered the vehicle to the left side of the road here to miss the eroded area. The vehicle began to slide off the road and over the embankment. The vehicle rolled completely over, coming to rest upright in the bottom of the drainage.
Several Forest Service employees witnessed the vehicle rollover. The driver and passenger exited the vehicle under their own power. An EMT arrived on scene less than five minutes after the accident. The EMT examined the individuals. While neither had visible injuries, both individuals were shaken-up and complained of soreness in their neck area.
For precautionary reasons, these two went to a local hospital that evening to be examined. Both were released within two hours…
Above: Accumulated precipitation over the last seven days, June 12-18, 2018.
Moderating weather over the last seven days has helped firefighters make progress on some of the fires in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. Today’s national Situation Report showed little or no increase in the size of wildfires in those four states. The 416 Fire in southwest Colorado and the Badger Creek Fire in southern Wyoming released a total of 345 personnel over the last 24 hours.
Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team is currently assigned to the 416 Fire, but Joe Reinarz’s NIMO team has been mobilized for the fire, which could be an indication that they expect it to be a long term incident. The west side of the fire has spread into steep, remote terrain above 8,000 feet as it grows closer to an 11,000 to 12,000-foot ridge five miles away. Much of the ridge is above the timber line and may eventually, with patience over time, serve as a barrier. Mr. Reinarz’s team team will transition on Friday.
Below, National Weather Service graphics show the observed precipitation and the departure from normal for the last 30 and 90 days.
Above: 3-D map of the Ute Park Fire, looking west. The red line on the map shows the perimeter at 10:30 p.m. June 2, 2018.
Increased fire activity near the community of Ute Park prompted the Colfax Emergency Manager and Colfax Sheriff’s Office to issue a mandatory evacuation for the community Saturday afternoon. Winds from the southeast caused the fire to grow to the northwest south of the town. Overnight it kept spreading to the west and a satellite overflight at 1:40 a.m. detected heat on the north side of Highway 64 west of the community. Firefighters are conducting point protection around structures and planned a burnout operation Saturday night to help protect the community which is now encircled by a dozer line.
Saturday’s burning operations to help protect the Cimarron area were successful on the fire’s eastern and southern flanks.
The fire has burned 31,910 acres in northeast New Mexico between Eagles Nest and Cimarron 26 air miles northeast of Taos.
The Ute Park Fire in Northeast New Mexico expanded to over 27,000 acres on Friday according to a mapping flight at 11 p.m. Friday night. It had the potential to become much larger but it may have been slowed when it spread into the scar from the 2002 Ponil Complex of Fires. In addition, the wind speed recorded at Cimarron on Friday, 9 mph gusting at 22 to 28 out of the southwest, was less than the prediction of sustained 25 mph southwest winds gusting between 31 and 36.
After sundown Friday the wind decreased to 3 mph with a variable direction, which allowed the fire to spread on the southwest side, probably adding one or two thousand acres to the 27,000 mapped at 11 p.m. But firefighters were able to keep the fire out of Cimarron.
Saturday’s weather forecast for Cimarron is for 84 degrees, relative humidity in the mid-teens, and 12 mph winds out of the northeast in the morning switching to the southeast in the afternoon. The variable wind direction could be problematic for firefighters.
The sensors on satellites that detect fires can be extremely useful, showing us the general location and extent of wildfires.
But as proven again today, they are not perfect. As imported into Google Earth, a VIIRS I 375 meter S-NPP sensor on one of the satellites reported at 1:47 p.m. MDT on Friday that there was a fire 142 miles long stretching across half the width of New Mexico. I feel confident in saying this is incorrect.