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.
Apparently these people survived driving through the Ute Park Fire in Northeast New Mexico. As a wildland firefighter for decades, I have never driven through that much fire for that length of time. One of the many disastrous things that can happen is that the fire consumes so much oxygen that there is not enough left to support burning the gasoline in the vehicle’s engine — it can quit and the vehicle will stall, probably in the most intense part of the fire.
(Originally published at 1:02 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018)
This satellite photo shows smoke from three fires at 12:32 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018. Two of the fires are in New Mexico, the Ute Park Fire and the Buzzard Fire. Both are being spread rapidly by strong winds which makes the smoke plume long and narrow.
In southwest Colorado there appears to be a new fire, possibly north of Durango. I don’t believe it is the Horse Park Fire. Update at 1:34 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018. We just confirmed the smoke in Southwest Colorado is from a new fire about 12 miles north of Durango, the 416 Fire.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Steve. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
The weather forecast for Friday afternoon indicates the potential for very rapid growth of this dangerous fire near Cimarron
Above: Map showing the location of the Ute Park Fire at 2:23 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018. Wildfire Today.
(UPDATED at 2:31 p.m. MDT June 1, 2018)
Fire officials report that the Ute Park fire, burning on private land on both sides of Highway 64 in Northeast New Mexico, has burned an estimated 16,500 acres. The communities of Ute Park and the Village of Cimarron are under mandatory evacuation orders.
(Originally published at 8:44 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018)
(UPDATED at 10:08 a.m. MDT June 1, 2018)
The Ute Park Fire in northeast New Mexico grew very quickly after it was reported at 2:10 p.m. MDT on Thursday 27 miles northeast of Taos. Now well established between Eagle Nest and Cimarron, it is burning on both sides of highway 64, which is closed.
The village of Cimarron (population about 900) and the area around Hummingbird Lane are under evacuation orders. There is a voluntary evacuation in place for Ute Park.
Our very unofficial estimate of the size, based on satellite data from 2:23 a.m. MDT June 1, is that at that time it had burned approximately 12,000 acres.
According to New Mexico Fire Information, approximately 12 unoccupied, non-residential structures at the Philmont Scout Ranch in the Cimarroncita area were destroyed. Another 150 structures remain threatened.
About three hours after the first orders were placed for the fire Bea Day’s Type 1 Incident Management Team was requested. It is unusual for a Type 1 team to be ordered that soon after a fire starts, and is an indication of the rapid rate of spread and the potential of this fire. The team will in-brief at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Soon after it started two very large air tankers (VLAT) were dispatched. By the end of they day the additional aircraft orders included six large air tankers, four helicopters, and Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft.
Northeast New Mexico is under a Red Flag Warning for Friday. The forecast for the fire area, which is at 7,000 to 8,000 feet, is about as bad as it can get — sustained 25 mph southwest winds gusting between 31 and 36, temperature in the low 80s, and 6 percent relative humidity. These conditions could be very conducive to rapid fire growth to the northeast. Depending on the exact wind direction the fire could seriously threaten Cimarron. Under these conditions it is unlikely that firefighters will be able to do much more than anchor the heel of the fire and perhaps do some structure protection where property owners have already prepared defensible space by clearing away debris and other flammable materials, and are using fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction.