Cajete Fire Update, June 18 2017 6:00 p.m.

Fire Information: 505-438-5300

Location: The Cajete 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 fire started approximately one mile northeast of Vallecitos de los Indios (Sierra de los Pinos). The fire area runs along the East Fork of the Jemez River and is west of the 2011 Las Conchas Fire burn scar and southeast of the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire burn scar.

Start Date: June 15, 2017 Cause: Abandoned campfire Size: 1,400 acres Containment: 80%

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

Resources Assigned: 424 personnel – 4 Type 1 Crews, 8 Type 2 crews, 7 engines, 1 dozer, 3 water tenders, 1 bulldozer, 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 crews made substantial progress in suppression efforts on the Cajete Fire. A helitack crew (a specially trained crew that is deployed by helicopter) repelled in to secure the fire line along Los Griegos Peak. They will spike out (camp near the fireline tonight) and complete their work tomorrow, before being extracted by aircraft.

Crews will continue to patrol and mop up along completed lines. Firefighters have also begun fire suppression repair, working to erase signs of suppression activity. Deputy Incident Commander Larry Savage said, “Our suppression activities should not leave a lasting mark upon the forest.” 

Closures and Evacuations: NM Highway 4 has been reopened to all traffic. Fire suppression and repair operations are still in progress. Motorists will be sharing the roadway with fire equipment and should use extra caution when driving in the fire area. Smoke could reduce visibility in the early morning hours. If it is determined that poor visibility presents a hazard to motorists, Law Enforcement will provide pilot cars to assist drivers passing through the fire area.

Repopulation of residents who were evacuated during the fire is now complete. Residents are reminded to consider that as the Cajete Fire burned, refrigeration was temporarily lost, and frozen foods warmed. Care must be taken in handling food that may have been damaged. 

Access to Area Attractions: All businesses and recreation sites in and around Jemez Springs are open and accessible, with the exception of the Jemez Falls and Redondo Campgrounds, and the Las Conchas Trail, which remain closed.

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.

Smoke: Smoke from the Cajete fire will still be visible as fuels in the interior continue to smolder. Although reduced, smoke may 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, and could reduce visibility during the early morning hours.

Fire Information: Updates will be posted on InciWeb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5251/, as well as New Mexico Fire Information website at nmfireinfo.com and on @SantaFeNF and www.facebook.com/SantaFeNF.

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