Increased Smoke Expected on Lava 18 Fire as Firefighters Conduct Strategic Firing Operations to Protect Private Land

Increased Smoke Expected on Lava 18 Fire as Firefighters Conduct Strategic Firing Operations to Protect Private Land

 Grants, NM The lightning-ignited Lava 18 Fire is estimated to be approximately 64 acres. Firefighters are monitoring this lightning-caused fire where it is maintaining the natural role in the ecosystem and using a full range of tactics to protect private property and cultural resources as needed.

Firefighters plan to conduct strategic burnout operations for approximately three miles along a handline and the 100 Road, east of the fire to create a buffer of burned vegetation between the fireline and the main body of fire. This will help prevent the fire from spreading to the east onto private land. Increased smoke is expected during burnout operations. Firefighters plan to try to take advantage of favorable winds from the east on Tuesday and Wednesday, which are expected to push smoke to the west, back into the fire, and away from private property. Information on air quality and protecting your health by using the 5-3-1 visibility method can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at

Once strategic firing operations on the east side of the fire are complete, the fire is expected to gradually grow until extinguished naturally by significant precipitation. As the fire continues to progress, it is expected to vary in intensity, spread, and duration with fire changes in fire activity, fuels, and weather.

Naturally-ignited wildland fires play an important role in fire-adapted ecosystems by reducing dead wood accumulations to ash and releasing nutrients that stimulate new plant growth, and helping to regulate insect and disease levels. These fires also create a mosaic of burned and unburned vegetation, which increases habitat diversity and breaks up continuous fuels on the forest floor (branches, fallen trees, etc.) which can help limit or slow the intensity and spread of large wildfires in the future.

Approximately 30 personnel are assigned to the fire. Resources include two engines, the 8-person Black Hills Wildland Fire Module (a crew that specializes in intelligence gathering, long-term planning, and strategic and tactical response), one 10-person state crew, one 4-person state Rapid Extraction Module (REM) team (a group of responders that can extract an injured firefighter in a wildland setting if needed), and miscellaneous support personnel.

The fire is located on the National Park Service (NPS) El Malpais National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) El Malpais National Conservation area. New Mexico State Forestry is a cooperator. It is south of El Calderon, which is located off Hwy. 53, 28 miles southwest of Grants, NM. The lightning-ignited fire was reported on August 22, 2109. Vegetation in the area consists mostly of Ponderosa Pine and mixed grasses, with some Douglass fir and Pinion/Juniper in places.

Additional information is available on and

Interactive Fire Map

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