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Update: 300 Personnel Working On El Cajete Fire

on June 17, 2017 - 3:19pm

El Cajete Fire boundary map. Courtesy/SFNF

SFNF News:

The latest news on the El Cajete Fire is that more than 300 personnel are working on it. Also, there will be a community meeting on the El Cajete Fire at 6 p.m. today at the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, 6 Riverview Court, La Cueva.

The fire is burning in the Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest, on both sides of N.M. 4 along the southern boundary of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Cajete Fire started approximately one mile northeast of Vallecitos de los Indios.

The fire area runs along the East Fork of the Jemez River and is to the west of the burn scars from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire and the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire.

Fire Details:

  • Start Date: June 15, 2017
  • Cause: Under investigation
  • Size: 1315 acres
  • Containment: 0 percent
  • Vegetation: Mostly ponderosa pine with some mixed conifer and aspen on the north slopes.

Resources Assigned:

  • More than 300 personnel;
  • 3 Type 1 Crews;
  • 5 Type 2 crews;
  • 9 engines;
  • 1 dozer;
  • 2 water tenders;
  • 2 Type 1 helicopters;
  • 1 Type 2 helicopter;, and
  • 1 Type 3 helicopter

Incident Command:

  • California Interagency Incident Management Team 3, led by Mark Vontillow, Incident Commander, is managing the fire as of 6 a.m. today.

Current Situation:

  • Initial attack crews established a strong anchor point on the west side of the fire, and built containment lines on the north and south sides which firefighters will continue to strengthen today. Mop up will begin on the north containment line today. No further northward progression is anticipated, which will keep the fire away from the East Fork of the Jemez River and the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Structure protection will continue to the south of the fire. Crews will work to secure the east and southeast flanks of the fire where there is most potential for fire growth. The fire is moving toward areas where there have been fuel reduction treatments and burn scars from previous fires which are expected to help firefighters get control of the fire.  

Closures and Evacuations:

  • Protection of human life is the first priority. New Mexico State Police have closed N.M. 4 from the intersection of N.M. 126 to the intersection of N.M. 501. Evacuations were ordered for several communities, including Ruby Holt Plat, Los Griegos and Sierra de Los Pinos. The public is asked to avoid the area. 

Values at Risk:

  • Multiple structures and small communities including Vallecitos de los Indios to the south, La Cueva to the northwest and many ranches, homes and private land parcels.  Several high-use recreation areas in proximity to the Cajete Fire include Jemez Falls, Battleship Rock, Jemez Canyon Overlook, several campgrounds and trails. Sacred sites and other cultural resources. The Wild and Scenic Jemez River, and threatened and endangered species, including the Jemez Mountain Salamander. 

Fire Weather:

  • Temperatures in the low to mid 80s and minimum relative humidities between 7-12 percent are expected to continue through the weekend. Winds are mostly west to northwesterly, pushing the fire to the east and southeast. The fire area has had little to no moisture over the last two weeks, and hot, dry conditions are expected to continue.

Smoke:

  • Smoke from the Cajete fire will continue to impact air quality in the Rio Grande Valley. Smoke tends to be heaviest in the morning after settling with cool air at night.

Drones:

  • Drones pose a serious risk to firefighting and can cause air operations to cease. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t!” 

Fire Information:

  • Updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at nmfireinfo.com and on @SantaFeNF and www.facebook.com/SantaFeNF.

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