Santa Fe NF Wildfire Update: Cajete Fire on Jemez Ranger District

June 16, 2017, 10:00 a.m.

Location: Jemez Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest, on both sides of NM Highway 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    Cause: Unknown     Size: 700 acres     Containment: 0%

Vegetation: Mostly ponderosa pine with some mixed conifer and aspen on the north slopes.

Resources Assigned: Approximately 130 personnel on scene today with multiple engines, one bulldozer, Type 1 helicopter, three air tankers, a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), lead plane and air attack.

Incident Command: A Type 3 Incident Command (IC) Team assumed command of the fire at 6:00 a.m. today.   A Type 1 IC Team is en route.

Summary: Fire crews established a good anchor on the west side of the fire yesterday. The strategy is full suppression.  Crews are working to establish perimeter control with structure and other point protection.  The first priority is always firefighter and public safety.

Closures and Evacuations: NM Highway 4 remains closed from the intersection of NM Highway 126 to the intersection of NM Highway 501. Evacuations were ordered yesterday for several communities, including Ruby Holt Plat, Los Griegos and Sierra de Los Pinos. However, residents meet Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office at mile marker 27 on Highway 4 for an escort in to retrieve their pets and other valuable items. 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. Other concerns include traditional and cultural sites.

Fire Weather: Fire weather conditions continue with temperatures in the low to mid 80s and minimum relative humidities between 4-8% 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.

Smoke: 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!”

 Fire Information: Updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at nmfireinfo.com and on @SantaFeNFand www.facebook.com/SantaFeNF.

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