Infrared Drone Helps Identify Black Feather Fire Hot Spots

Map of the Black Feather Fire. Courtesy/USDA 

Fire Information Update:

  • Area, road and trail closure for the Black Feather Fire remains in place.


  • Acres: 2,198 acres
  • Start Date: Aug. 5, 2023
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Fuels: Timber, Brush, Understory
  • Containment: 28 percent
  • Resources: 220 personnel

Location: Approximately 9 miles south of Gallina on the Santa Fe National Forest, Coyote Ranger  District. Near the Peñas Negras Trail in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness.  

Highlights: This week’s work to improve FSRD 103 and FSRD 93 has been moving along well. Most of the road grading and chipping of brush has been completed. The area, road and trail closure issued by The Santa Fe National Forest in part of the Coyote Ranger District remain in place. Fire crews are still working along many of these closed roads, rehabilitating and reducing future fire risk. The road closure allows the crews and equipment to move around easily and continue to work safely in the area impacted by the fire.  

Operations: Firefighters were able to take advantage of the infrared drone again Thursday. The drone has been a significant asset in helping identify hot spots that aren’t easily seen while on foot. Using a gridding pattern coupled with the drone, firefighters have been working along the fire’s eastern edge to increase containment. Chipping operations are  nearly complete and will wrap up in the next few days as other types of rehabilitation begin.  

Safety: Several large pieces of equipment are in use in and around the fire area. Please continue to stay away from where crews are working and those areas impacted by the fire. The Temporary Flight Restriction is still in place. Please do not fly drones anywhere near the fire. If you fly, we can’t fly. 

Weather: Slightly higher temperatures with late afternoon scattered showers will continue. Winds out of the south, southwest, with potential afternoon gusts, are expected. Humidity levels should remain steady, helping to keep fire activity low. 

Restrictions/Closures: The Santa Fe National Forest has issued an area, road, and trail closure in part of the Coyote Ranger District. See for information and a corresponding map. Forest Road 103 is closed to non-residential traffic. Closures will be adjusted based on fire activity.  

Smoke: Variations in temperatures and humidity will impact smoke conditions in the coming days and weeks. Smoke may be more and less visible in the area as active smoldering takes place. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Air quality information is available here.

Evacuations: The communities of Mesa Pinabetal, Mesa Poleo, and Wetherill remain in ‘Ready’ status. The Coyote  Senior Center is open to evacuees, and livestock can be taken to the Rio Arriba Rural Event Center near Abiquiu. The Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office will coordinate evacuations if they go into effect. For more information, use the QR code below and visit the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Map of the Black Feather Fire evacuations. Courtesy/USDA 

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