Ute Park Fire deemed safe enough for transition

US 64 in open for traffic

Highway 64 outside Cimarron. (Facebook photo by ‎Colin Tawney of Cimarron)
Yesterday evening officials were confident enough with the Ute Park Fire’s 92-percent containment today they are transitioning Ute Park Fire management from the Type 1 Southwest Area Incident Management Team #1, (Bea Day, Incident Commander), to a local Type 3 Incident Management Team (Jamie Long, Incident Commander). Firefighters will continue to monitor and patrol the fire and the incoming Type 3 Incident Management Team is prepared to respond to new fires in the area if needed.
Fire updates will be issued once a day in the evening, unless significant events occur.

According to the report, containment lines around the perimeter of the Ute Park Fire held strong yesterday. The fire is 92-percent contained with 36,740 acres burned (26,387 acres on Philmont Scout Ranch).No homes have burned on the Ute Park Fire but 14 outbuildings burned on the Philmont Scout Ranch when the blaze started on May 31. The cause of the blaze, which started on May 31, is still under investigation. As of this morning 244 personnel are still at work, including 4 crews, 2 helicopters, 8 engines and 4 water tenders.

Smoke and flame will continue to be visible over the next few weeks until the area receives significant precipitation. Islands of unburned vegetation within the containment lines will continue to burn; however, this fire behavior is expected and is not a threat to the fire perimeter.

At press time, the Carson National Forest was under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, however, forest officials will meet next Monday (July 18) to assess whether closure is needed. There is a burn ban on all State and Private Lands through the State Forestry Department, a ban on open burning in the unincorporated areas of Colfax County and a burn ban in Angel Fire. Red River also has fire restrictions in place.

Highway 64 is open

US 64 is open from Cimarron to Eagle Nest — mile marker 287 to 309 — but delays may continue in the coming weeks as road crews work to prevent rolling and flooding debris from reaching the road and clearing debris after rains, as needed.

“NM 204 remains closed north and south of mile marker 0 to mile marker 10 — only residents are being allowed access. Call 511 or visit nmroads.com for current road info.

Cimarron Canyon State Park remains closed. Visit the Cimarron Canyon State Park website for current updates. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is open for boating and shoreline visits.

How to understand containment

Numbers can be misleading, Ute Park fire officials say, but maps and photos can give a better picture of just what is happening with the Ute Park Fire. The Chronicle spoke with Anna Bouchonville, PIO for the Ute Park Fire, and verified the best way to understand containment is to look at current maps. In the map 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 crude circle below only indicates the fire’s perimeter based on prior and current burning, not what is still burning.

The Map below shows the fire’s progression as of June 9. Click here for a larger version.

Official reports continue to emphasize firefighters are working to suppress this fire where they can do so safely and effectively.

Values deemed at risk include “public and firefighter safety, the community of Ute Park, Philmont Scout Ranch, the Cimarroncito and Urraca Watersheds, Cimarron Canyon State Park, private lands, economic benefits from tourism and recreation in the area, and air quality.”

The Taos News reported the Ute Park Fire is one of ten burning across 95,000 acres in New Mexico and Arizona currently, according to the Southwest Area Coordination Center. More than 1,730 fire personnel are on those fires, including ten helicopters and 55 engines. Colorado has three major wildfires burning and smoke from those fires along with Ute Park hung over the Taos Valley Monday.


Use the 5-3-1 visibility method to protect your health from smoke: bit.ly/2jJwwd7. Air Monitoring Resources are available at bit.ly/2tm1VG6bit.ly/2sqcLJ4.

Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. More info visit Know Before You Fly.

Ute Park Fire Info: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5820 (air quality info, maps, etc.) and nmfireinfo.com

Colfax County Emergency Management Information: bit.ly/2LbNdXh

Facebook: facebook.com/uteparkfireinfo

Twitter: twitter.com/uteparkfireinfo

Public Line: 505-309-0751 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Ute Park Fire Photos

Workers from the state Department of Transportation install jersey barriers to block debris flows onto the roadway of Highway 64 south of Ute Park Monday (June 4). (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
(Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Navajo Hotshots retrieve gear from sling net on the fire’s west flank south of Ute Park Tuesday (June 5). (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
(Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Navajo Hotshots sharpen a chainsaw. (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Navajo Scout Type 2 IA Crewmembers chainsaw and clear brush near the roadway of Highway 64 west of Ute Park Tuesday (June 5). (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Navajo Scout Type 2 IA Crew members clear brush near roadway. (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Task Force Leader Doug Niemynski scrapes fireline around hotspot. (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
A Helicopter delivers sling net to the west flank south of Ute Park Tuesday (June 5). (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
Sky Crane Helicopter drops water on hotspot on the west flank south of Ute Park Tuesday (June 5). (Photo by Mike McMillan, Ute Park Fire PIO)
From the Village of Eagle Nest Facebook page: “Eagle Nest Senior Center has been set up as an emergency shelter for Ute Park Fire evacuees. Thank you to the American Red Cross (Lucas) for your assistance!”
Helicopter with water bucket leaving Eagle Nest. I heard they were dipping water from EN Lake earlier, but then it got too windy to safely dip water. (Courtesy photo, Marcy Archer)
Russell Church of Red River took this video soon after the blaze started:

Photo taken in Cimarron Canyon
Photo from Ute Park soon after the blaze began
Ute Park
View from the Cimarron School
Cimarron, New Mexico
(Photo by Jill Werhane of Cimarron)
from Whittington Center
View from Eagle Nest, New Mexico
Eagle Nest
Near Angel Fire
Another image from Chronicle reader Sandra Loubet