Heavy smoke drifts down into the Jemez Valley overnight and early this morning. Photo by R.W./Jemez Post
Location: 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 appears to have 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.
Start Date: June 15, 2017
Size: 600 acres
Containment: 0 percent
Vegetation: Mostly ponderosa pine with some mixed conifer and aspen on the north slopes.
Resources Assigned: Approximately 175 personnel on scene today with multiple engines, Type 1 helicopter, three air tankers, a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), lead plane and air attack.
Incident Command: Local command is expected to transition to a Type 3 Incident Command (IC) Team tomorrow. A Type 1 IC Team is on order.
Closures and Evacuations: 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. Additional evacuations may be necessary, depending on the fire’s behavior. The public is asked to avoid the area.
Values at Risk: The potential fire area includes several structures and small communities. The fire area includes the community of 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.
Fire Weather: Temperatures in the low to mid 80s and minimum relative humidities between 4-8 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.
Fire Behavior and Smoke: Thursday saw moderate to high fire behavior. We anticipate degrading air quality in the Rio Grande Valley due to smoke from the Cajete Fire.
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!”