Cajete Fire Update

FIRE INFORMATION: 505.438.5300


Cajete Fire Update
June 17, 2017, 6:00 p.m.


Location:  The fire is burning in the 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 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: Abandoned campfire    Size: 1,315 acres     Containment: 55%

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

Resources Assigned:  323 personnel – 4 Type 1 Crews, 5 Type 2 crews, 9 engines, 1 dozer, 3 water tenders, 2 Type 1 helicopters, 1 Type 2 helicopter, and 1 Type 3 helicopter

Incident Command:  California Interagency Incident Management Team 3, led by Mark von Tillow, Incident Commander, is managing the fire.

Current Situation: Fire behavior has moderated since yesterday resulting in minimal growth today. The fire was active in areas of dense forest canopy with dead and down fuels, but the green grasses in open canopy are not carrying the fire.  Fire retardant was used to hold the fire in the southeast part of the fire while crews continue building fire line along the southern perimeter. The fire is progressing toward an aspen grove which will diminish the fire activity due to the higher fuel moisture in this area.

Air operations were shut down for an hour and a half this afternoon when an unauthorized drone was observed flying over the fire area.  Jemez Mountain Electrical Co-op is in the process of restoring the electrical power that was shut down due to the fire.

Closures and Evacuations: NM Highway 4 is closed north of the intersection with NM Highway 126, just north of Sulphur Creek Road, and also at the intersection of NM Highway 501.  Evacuations are in place for the communities of Ruby Holt Plat, Los Griegos and Sierra de Los Pinos.  The public is asked to avoid the area.  Affected residents who need to access their property can contact the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department to arrange an escort. 

Access to Area Attractions:  Businesses and most recreation sites in and around Jemez Springs, including those on Highway 4 up to the closure, Forest Road 376 and the Highway 126 corridor are accessible and open. 

Values to be Protected:  Businesses, recreation sites, multiple structures, and small communities including 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. Sacred sites and other cultural resources. The Wild and Scenic Jemez River, and threatened and endangered species, including the Jemez Mountain salamander.

Fire Weather:  There is potential for thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon as a cold front moves in from the east.  Minimum relative humidities and nighttime humidity are expected to increase. 

Smoke:  Smoke from the Cajete fire will continue to impact air quality in the Rio Grande Valley. Smoke tends to be heaviest in the morning after settling with cool air at night.

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 and on @SantaFeNF and

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