Type 2 Incident Management Team ordered for the Pine Lodge Fire in New Mexico

It is 18 miles east of Capitan, NM

Map Pine Lodge Fire southwest New Mexico
Map showing the location of the Pine Lodge Fire in southwest New Mexico. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 1:26 p.m. MDT June 21, 2019.

The Pine Lodge Fire is burning on the north end of the Smokey Bear Ranger District, Lincoln National Forest in Southwest New Mexico. It is 18 miles east of Capitan and 3 miles northwest of Arabela. A Type 3 Incident Management Team is currently engaged, and a Type 2 Team has been ordered. (See the map, above, of the Pine Lodge Fire)

Our very unofficial estimate of the size, based on heat detected by a satellite at 1:26 p.m. MDT on June 21, is that it has burned approximately 1,800 acres. It was spreading rapidly Friday afternoon pushed by a southwest wind.

Satellite photo smoke Woodbury and Pine Lodge Fires
Satellite photo showing smoke from the Woodbury and Pine Lodge Fires at 5:01 p.m. MDT June 21, 2019.

The strategy is to suppress the fire. It is burning off Forest Service Road 130 near Boy Scout Mountain in extremely rough, rocky terrain with grass, pinyon-juniper, and mixed conifer vegetation. Firefighters will continue to assess and engage this fire, taking into consideration public and firefighter safety as the number one priority.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning until 8 p.m. Friday for extreme fire weather. A weather station at the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, 18 miles to the southwest, recorded a high Friday afternoon of 83 degrees, 10 percent relative humidity, and winds out of the southwest at 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40. The forecast for Saturday calls for 87 degrees, RH of 8 percent, and southwest winds at 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Red Flag Warnings
Red Flag Warnings, updated at 10 a.m. MDT June 21, 2019.

Fire at Portales, New Mexico burns four structures

map 267 Fire Portales New Mexico
Map showing the location of the 267 Fire (the orange dots) near Portales, New Mexico at 2:18 p.m. MDT April 10, 2019. Click to enlarge.

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.

It was also very windy in Albuquerque, New Mexico Wednesday:

Truck rollover, Aragon Fire in New Mexico

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…

Weather slows fire activity in Western United States

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.

precipitation 30 days
Accumulated precipitation, May 20 through June 18, 2018. NWS.
precipitation 30 days
Precipitation departure from average, May 20 through June 18, 2018. NWS.
precipitation 90 days
Accumulated precipitation March 21 through June 18, 2018. NWS.
precipitation 90 days
Precipitation departure from average, March 21 through June 18, 2018. NWS.

Ute Park Fire active overnight near the community of Ute Park

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.

map ute park wildfire fire
The red line on the map shows the perimeter of the Ute Park Fire at 10:30 p.m. MDT June 2, 2018. The yellow line was the perimeter the previous night. The red dots on the northwest side indicate heat detected by a satellite at 1:40 a.m. MDT June 3.

Ute Park Fire grows to 27,000 acres

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.

Map of the Ute Park Fire
Map of the Ute Park Fire at 11 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018.

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.