Cerro Pelado Fire Consumes 32,121 Acres, 13% Contained

USDA Forest Service News:

The USDA Forest Service issued the following update at 11:20 a.m. today on the Cerro Pelado Fire burning in the Jemez Mountains.

Team transition has occurred: The Great Basin Team 1 Incident Management Team at 6 a.m. today assumed command of the Cerro Pelado Fire.

Public Meeting: A Cerro Pelado Fire Community Meeting in Los Alamos is 5:30 p.m. today in person in Griffith Gymnasium at Los Alamos High School, 1300 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos, NM, and via Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88006470074.

Acreage: 32,121 acres Containment: 13%

Personnel and Equipment: 807 total personnel; 38 engines, 5 Type 1 hand crews, 11 Type 2 hand crews, 5 Type 2 initial attack crews, 7 helicopters, 2 scooper planes, 10 dozers, 1 masticator, 2 ambulances, 1 rapid medical extraction unit and 14 water tenders. Air National Guard helicopters are on standby.

Thursday: Firefighters working along N.M. 4 on the northwest side of the fire toward the northeast by Cox Ranch have completed thinning dense brush and trees. U.S. Department of Energy masticators continued to grind up burnable vegetation along N.M. 4, which remained closed from mile marker 30 to mile marker 59. The fire remained south of the highway. Crews continued mop up and patrol on the northwest side of the fire, to the southwest corner and east to Paliza Canyon. A spot fire on the west side of the fire and south of Meadow helicopter dip site received an immediate response with 6 air tankers, 2 hand crews and numerous engines. There were approximately 30 additional spots, which were extinguished immediately.  Large and Very Large Air Tankers applied retardant along the east side of the fire along the Alamo Trail to assist with keeping the fire in check and in the bottom of the canyon. The structural group continued evaluating and strengthening protection around homes, using tactical fire where appropriate. No new structural losses were reported. Super scooper planes scooped water from Cochiti Lake and dropped it on Rabbit Mountain and Cochiti Mesa, which kept the fire south of N.M. 4. Coordination between the Incident Team and the Pueblo of Jemez and the Pueblo of Cochiti made further refinements in control lines on the south side of the fire, straightening out some line and eliminating some curves. Safety and Operations reported no firefighter injuries.

Today: Firefighters will continue to work along the perimeter of the fire along N.M. 4 on the north, Forest Road (FR) 266 on the west, FR 270 on the south, and FR 289 on the east to improve firelines with thinning and chipping. Tactical fires were used to improve firelines along the northeast corner of the fire, along the Alamo Trail from N.M. 4 to FR 289. Masticators from the U.S. Department of Energy will continue to grind vegetation along N.M. 4. Firefighters fully plumbed the northeast perimeter. Firefighters also will coordinate with the National Park Service in this area for structure protection for Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve. Structure protection has continued in this area. Firefighters will continue coordination with the Pueblo of Cochiti and are still assessing and providing protection for structures in the Cochiti Lake area. Containment and mop up of the 20-acre spot fire on the southwest part of the fire will continue today.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Temperatures will be in the mid-70s today. Winds will be west/northwest at 12 mph with gusts to 25, as the fire continues backing toward N.M. 4. On the west, fire is expected to continue moving to the south across Oaks Mesa with the most activity expected in the southwest. As the fire moves southeast, it is expected to make slow progress through sparse vegetation and rock washes above the Pueblo of Cochiti, but continue to move through thin strips of mixed conifer in canyon bottoms. In the northeast, terrain-influenced winds will continue to support fire spread to the east and north. If it crosses N.M. 4, it will rapidly spread in heavy grasses of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Ground forces should expect very active fire behavior with spotting distances up to half a mile. 

Evacuations, Shelter Areas: The communities of Cochiti Mesa and the Peralta Canyon area, including Cox Ranch, remain under a “Go” evacuation status. The Sandoval County Fire Department and Emergency Management will provide updated information on evacuations, as needed. Evacuations for Sierra de Los Pinos remain in “Set” mode, meaning being ready to leave at a moment’s notice. If conditions change and the fire threatens the community again, these areas could return to “Go.”  Los Alamos County and Cochiti Lake area remain in “Ready” status.

Air quality: Information on air quality is at New Mexico Department of Health Environmental Public Health Tracking, https://nmtracking.org./fire. An interactive smoke map at https://fire.airnow.gov/ allows you to zoom into your area to see the latest smoke conditions. 

Closures: N.M. 4 remains closed to all traffic from mile marker 30, 14 miles east of Sierra De los Pinos to mile marker 50, 14 miles west of White Rock due to fire activity. N.M. 4 also is closed to non-local traffic at mile marker 35 (2 miles east of Sierra De los Pinos). Motorists should drive slowly along the highway with headlights on. Fire equipment and firefighters will be traveling along N.M. 4 and accessing the fire, especially at intersections with FR 10 and FR 280. Heavy traffic impedes firefighting efforts and endangers firefighter safety. The most updated road closure information can be found here: https://www.nmroads.com/mapIndex.html  

The Santa Fe National Forest has issued a closure order for the Cerro Pelado Fire area and a second closure order for the Cerro Pelado Firefighter Camp along FR 376. The purpose of both orders is to protect public health and safety due to extreme fire danger in the Restricted Area. Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve remain closed due to fire activity until further notice. 

Fire Restrictions: Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for the Santa Fe National Forest, which prohibits all campfires and other hazardous activities. Due to ongoing fire threats, Sandoval County will not issue burn permits. 

Temporary Flight Restriction: There is a flight restriction on the area over the fire (10 nautical miles southwest of Los Alamos, NOTAM 2/2366). https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_2_6919.html. Drones over the fire also are prohibited. 


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