New Mexico's Summer 2016 Wildfires

New Mexico wildfires
New Mexico wildfire. Joe Raedle/Hulton Archive

Current New Mexico Wildfires

Though New Mexico is a desert, it does have a substantial amount of mountain forests that are susceptible to wildfires. Within the last decade, wildfires have been part of every dry summer season, and some burn large swaths of forest. New Mexico has bright, sunny weather, but there are times when the sun brings with it no rains, and afternoon breezes can fan flames and result in fire spread.

Crews do what they can given the somewhat unforgiving conditions. New Mexico wildfires tend to begin in May and last until the monsoon rains, which can occur anytime from June through August, but tend to most often fall in July.

New Mexico lands managed by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, State of New Mexico, Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are all liable to have wildfires. 

The southwest is at a high level of preparedness because of the dry conditions and lack of rain. As of this writing, the southwest is at Level 4 out of 5 for preparedness, meaning that fire behavior may be extreme and pose a threat to life and property. 

The following list of fires provides basic information on the fires, how they started, and how many acres have been burned. Follow the "more info" link to official sites that update wildfire status and conditions.

 

Independence

Fire Name: Independence Fire
Fire Started: July 4, 2016
Fire Location: Questa Ranger District, north of Lama Foundation
Number of Acres Burned: 22
Fire Containment: 90%
Fire Cause: Lightning
Evacuations: No
Vegetationl: Oak brush, Douglas fir
Jurisdiction: Carson National Forest

San Pasqual

Fire Name: San Pasqual 
Fire Started: July 4, 2016
Fire Location: Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
Number of Acres Burned: 720
Fire Containment: 95%
Fire Cause: Lightning
Evacuations: No
Vegetation: Mostly salt cedar and cottonwoods
Damage Assessment: Burned on south end of refuge, on both sides of Rio Grande.


Firefighting Personnel: 7
Jurisdiction: Fish and Wildlife Service

Dog Head Fire

The Dog Head fire started on Tuesday, June 14, and has grown rapidly, with unfortunate weather conditions of heat, no rain, little humidity and afternoon winds fanning the flames. It is located in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque. The fire began just north of Fourth of July Campground, a favorite local spot for recreational activities and in the fall, colorful leaf displays.  Despite concerted efforts to keep it contained, it has consumed some residences.  

Fire Name: Dog Head 
Fire Started: June 14, 2016
Fire Location: Six miles NW of Tajique, NM
Number of Acres Burned: 17,912
Fire Containment: 95%
Fire Cause: Human - under investigation
Evacuations: Yes
Vegetation: Heavy fuels, dead timber, ponderosa pine stands
Damage Assessment: 12 single residences, 44 other minor structures
Firefighting Personnel: 181
Jurisdiction: Cibola National Forest, New Mexico State Forestry, Southern Pueblo Agency, BLM

North Fire

Fire Name: North Fire 
Fire Started: May 21, 2016
Fire Location: San Mateo Mountains, 25 miles SW of Magdalena
Number of Acres Burned: 42,102
Fire Containment: 90%
Fire Cause: Lightning
Evacuations: Closures in areas for public use in National Forest lands
Vegetation: Heavy fuels, dead timber, ponderosa pine stands
Damage Assessment: 
Firefighting Personnel: 10
Jurisdiction: Magdalena Ranger DIstrict, Cibola National Forest

Paliza Fire

Fire Name: Paliza Fire 
Fire Started: June 18, 2016
Fire Location: In Paliza Canyon off Forest Road 266 NE of Paliza campground and one mile west of Ponderosa Christian camp
Number of Acres Burned: 1
Fire Containment: 100%
Fire Cause: Human, under investigation
Evacuations: No
Vegetation: Oak brush, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir
Damage Assessment: minimal
Firefighting Personnel: none
Jurisdiction: Jemez Ranger District in Santa Fe National Forest

Big Hat Fire

Fire Name: Big Hat Fire 
Fire Started: June 22, 2016
Fire Location: Banco Bonito area
Number of Acres Burned: 235
Fire Containment: 30%
Fire Cause: Lightning strike
Evacuations: No
Vegetation: Fire burning in 10 year old fire scar, moving through grass and pine needles
Damage Assessment: Located in a thinned and masticated treatment area slated for prescribed burn in fall
Firefighting Personnel: 10
Jurisdiction: Valles Caldera National Preserve, National Park Service

Turkey Fire

Fire Name: Turkey Fire 
Fire Started: June 5, 2016
Fire Location: In wilderness district of the Gila National Forest, approximately eight miles southwest of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Number of Acres Burned: 3,915
Fire Containment:
Fire Cause: Lightning strike
Evacuations: No
Vegetation: Fire burning in 10 year old fire scar, moving through grass and pine needles
Damage Assessment: Fire burning in a 10 year old fire scar
Firefighting Personnel: 13
Jurisdiction: Gila National Forest

Spur Fire

Fire Name: Spur Fire 
Fire Started: May 21, 2016
Fire Location: Road 49 on the east and Forest Road 3020 on the north and a two track road on the west
Number of Acres Burned: 1,512
Fire Containment: 40%, long-term event
Fire Cause: Lightning strike
Evacuations: No
Vegetation: Fire burning in 10 year old fire scar, moving through grass and pine needles
Damage Assessment: minimal
Firefighting Personnel: 108
Jurisdiction: Quemado Ranger District of the Gila National Forest

Learn about how to protect your health from smoke during wildfire season, and from forest and bosque fires.