Gila National Forest – Update on Elk Fire, Quemado Ranger District, June 8, 2019

Location: southeast of Mangas Mountain, Quemado Ranger District, Catron County, NM

Start Date:  June 6, 2019          Size: ~63 acres             Cause: Lightning

Vegetation:  Transitional moving up Mangas Mountain from pinyon juniper grasslands to ponderosa pine, to dry mixed conifer to wet mixed conifer with aspen.

Resources:  One Type 3 helicopter, one air tanker, Silver City IHC, Gila IHC, Plumas IHC

Incident Commander:  Heath Barker, IC3

Fire Activity: Fire activity over the last 24 hours has been of low to moderate intensity, with dead fallen trees (3-8” diameter) and brush piles burning.

Summary:

The Elk Fire is burning on National Forest System lands on the Quemado Ranger District, Gila National Forest. Today, an aerial reconnaissance of the fire will occur to increase situational awareness and inform the fire management team as to favorable places to engage the fire where the firefighters have the highest probability of achieving objectives. The strategy for this incident is to suppress the fire to the smallest fire footprint. Lack of access and resistance to control, the ability of firefighters to suppress this fire will be extremely difficult and limited. The public should expect to see this fire continue to grow across the landscape. Firefighters will continue to assess and engage this fire where and when opportunities exist. As a result of these difficulties, a Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered as well as approximately 100 additional firefighters.

Thursday’s ground reconnaissance of the area shows it to be in remote and rugged terrain, with rocky, steep slopes, deep drainages and lava rock surrounded by grasses and pinyon juniper. The primary objective for all wildland fire is wildland firefighter safety and public safety. Additional objectives include managing fire to achieve desired conditions for all identified values such as private land with infrastructure, communication sites, FS lookout tower, range improvements, and critical wildlife habitat.

Smoke from fire rises up and away during the daytime, but in the evening, smoke can pool back down in canyons, drainages, and basins. For information on air quality and protecting your health, and to find guidance on distances and visibility, please visit https://nmtracking.org/fire. Fire information can be found at nmfireinfo.com and Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6379/.

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