Rains continue to douse area blazes

Rainfall continues to give firefighters the edge over wildfires: The lightning-caused Morris Creek Fire on the UU Bar Ranch, Philmont Scout Ranch and state land, has torched 1,671 acres and is 60-percent contained; the Emily Fire near Wagon Mound has burned 8,432 acres and is 75-percent contained; and the huge Spring Creek Fire, 5 miles northeast of Ft. Garland, Colorado, has torched 107,967 acres and is 83-percent contained.

(Image from the National Weather Service in Albuquerque)
According to the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque website, showers and thunderstorms are70-percent likely this afternoon, some of which could produce heavy rain. The service predicts at least a 60-percent chance for rain through Monday.

Morris Creek Fire

Yesterday, the Morris Creek Fire received 3/4-inch of a steady rain for about an hour. According to today’s update, although the rain decreased fire behavior, “the northern perimeter of the fire remains un-contained due to the inaccessibility of steep, rugged terrain. Today, weather forecasts include afternoon showers again. Crews will monitor the north side of the fire as it progresses down into the Rayado Creek drainage. Aerial resources will be utilized when and where possible to slow the fire’s progression. The Southwest Area Incident Management Team #3 is beginning preparations for transfer of command to a Type 3 Organization Saturday morning. 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

Today’s update noted, “Crews made good progress [on the Emily Fire] yesterday. Weather conditions prevented fire personnel from utilizing helicopter aerial ignition for some small, isolated areas but a light rain extinguished most hot spots remaining in those areas. Crews patrolled, monitored and secured the fire perimeter throughout the day with the help of the increased humidity and rain. They started fire suppression repair by hand seeding the disturbed soil resulting from the dozer and fire operations. There is no intent to do any additional firing by ground crews or helicopter. Today’s efforts will involve monitoring the fire edge and mopping up any hot spots. Repair work will continue on areas damaged by suppression activities. Some smoke may be visible from Interstate 25 and surrounding communities, but at a diminished level.”

Spring Creek Fire

This morning’s update noted the Spring Creek Fire “remains uncontrolled on the northwest perimeter due to steep terrain and fuel loading, interior islands are continuing to consume on occasion. Heavy dead and down fuels continue to creep and smolder on the northwest and south portions of the fire.… Lines are being prepped and plans are in place to provide structure protection in and around the communities to the north. Indirect lines are being constructed in preparation for burning out if conditions allow. Resources currently assigned to the incident are needed to support structure protection efforts as well as direct and indirect line construction. In all other divisions: resources are continuing to mop up and patrol in and around structures and fire control lines are being reinforced to further secure the fire perimeter. Suppression repair efforts will continue in contained areas of the fire.

“Nighttime humidity recovery will be higher than the previous several nights (68-72%) with a 20% chance of wetting rain. Fire activity is expected to be minimal, however heavier fuels will continue to retain heat through the evening hours.”