Rain brings good news, bad news for fire zones

Thursday’s forecast
This week’s weather forecast brings good news and bad news for areas affected by current or extinguished wildfires. As the chance for thunderstorms increases this week, by Thursday, weather officials are warning of flash flood danger, particularly in burn scar areas.

The Carson National Forest is in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, which means fire danger is still rated as “very high.” For more information on fire restrictions and area closure visit fs.usda.gov/Carson.

As of this morning, the human-caused Sardinas Canyon Fire is 50-percent contained; the lightning caused Morris Creek Fire is 60-percent contained; the lightning-caused Emily Fire is 24-percent contained; and the huge Spring Creek Fire, 5 miles northeast of Ft. Garland, Colorado, is 77-percent contained.

Sardinas Fire transfers to Type 4

This morning’s “final update”  for the Sardinas Canyon Fire, 18 miles southeast of Taos, noted the fire has transitioned from a Type 3 Organization to a Type 4 Organization.

There will be a community meeting 5:30 p.m., Thursday (July 12) at the Peñasco Community Center. Carson National Forest Staff and Fire Managers will be on hand to answer questions about the Sardinas Canyon fire and post suppression activities.

According to the update, the blaze, which torched about 2,337 acres is 50-percent contained. According to the report, steep and inaccessible terrain mean the northeast portion of the fire perimeter will not be fully contained until the area receives substantial rainfall. In the meantime, crews will continue to hold and secure containment lines.

The best way to understand containment is to look at current maps. In the maps below, for example, the black line represents areas that have been largely contained, either through firefighter-created fire lines or previous burning. Red areas show open areas along the fire’s perimeter that are not yet contained. Containment decisions are based on protecting “values,” such as buildings and watersheds, and firefighter safety.

The area around the Sardinas Canyon Fire will remain closed due to ongoing fire activities and for the safety of the public. Access to Forest Service Road 76, off Hwy 518, will be closed, as well as sections of Forest Service Roads 442, 440 and 439. We discourage traveling on these roads, but if you do, please exercise extreme caution for firefighter safety. The La Junta Summerhomes, Duran and Upper La Junta campgrounds are located off of Forest Service Road 76 and are included in this area closure. The Forest Service continually re-evaluates the closures in this area for safety of the public to consider reopening the roads for public use.

This is the last update for the Sardinas Canyon Fire. If you have any questions, contact the Carson National Forest, 575-785-6200 or go to inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5868.

Morris Creek Fire

According to this morning’s update, the Morris Creek Fire, burning on the UU Bar Ranch, Philmont Scout Ranch, and State Land has not crossed the bottom of Rayado Creek Canyon. At 1,620 acres to date, the fire is 60-percent contained.

Fire Behavior Analyst Stewart Turner stated: “If the fire reaches the bottom of the canyon, fire behavior may be minimal due to the lack of direct sunlight and moisture from the creek. The ability to use air resources will also assist with minimizing fire behavior.”

Yesterday, the fire did not grow in size and no spot fires were reported. Helicopters did water bucket drops on the northern fire perimeter to assist with minimizing fire behavior.

Today, drier weather conditions are expected. The fire is still burning approximately 50 feet from the bottom of Rayado Creek Canyon. Firefighters are working to the far north of Rayado Creek Canyon to continue structure protection for values at risk. Strategies remain in place in the event fire crosses the canyon, including aerial ignitions to decrease the chances of high intensity fire making a run up the south face of Rayado Creek Canyon.

Weather forecasts continue to include chances for showers and thunderstorms for some parts of New Mexico this week. There is concern for road conditions to change due to debris rolling onto the road from rains near the fire burn scar areas. For up to date road closure information refer to New Mexico Department of Transportation Road Advisory Hotline 511 or nmroads.com.

Emily Fire

The Emily Fire near Wagon Mound has burned 5,950 acres and is 24-percent contained today, compared with 8 percent yesterday.

According to today’s report, crews expect “favorable burnout conditions” today, which should allow hand and helicopter aerial ignition opportunities to continue east along the road in Mclamar Canyon on the fire’s north side, and Ciruela Creek to the south and east. Crews will also continue working along Arroyo Tierra Blanco to the south, while holding and monitoring the fire lines and internal areas.As we implement these fire suppression actions, smoke will be visible from Interstate 25 and surrounding communities.

Fire restrictions are still in place throughout the area and smoke will be visible from Interstate 25 and surrounding communities.

Spring Creek Fire

The huge Spring Creek Fire, 5 miles northeast of Ft. Garland, Colorado, is 77-percent contained after torching 107,967 acres. According to today’s report, structure protection specialists continue to patrol Tres Valles, Navajo Ranch, and other repopulated areas. Smoke could be seen inside the fire perimeter as remaining islands of vegetation.

The fire North of Hwy 160 remains uncontrolled on the northwest perimeter due to steep terrain and fuel loading. Interior islands are continuing to burn. The fire South of Hwy 160 has minimal fire behavior with interior islands continuing to burn.

Weather across the fire area will be similar to the conditions yesterday. there is still a potential for gusty and erratic winds (up to 30 mph) associated with isolated thunderstorm activity.

County Road 520 and Colorado Highway 69 remain closed. Portions of US Highway 160 may be closed as needed due to fire activity.

Rain will pick up as week progresses

Today and tonight, the chance for precipitation is 20 percent, Wednesday the chance increases to 50 percent. Later in the week, chances are as follows:

  • Thursday, 60 percent;
  • Friday, 80 percent;
  • Saturday, 60 percent;
  • Sunday, 60 percent; and
  • Sunday, 70 percent.