Lava 18 Fire Continues to Meet Objectives

Lava 18 Fire Interagency News Release

For Immediate Release

September 7, 2019

Contact:  Ernie Price, 505-285-4641 ext. 18, ernie_price@nps.gov

Lava 18 Fire Continues to Meet Objectives

Grants, NM The lightning-ignited Lava 18 Fire is approximately 1,500 acres. This fire is playing an important role maintaining a healthy forest and ensuring the resiliency of this fire dependent landscape. It is creating 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 and associated smoke in the future.

Fire managers will continue to monitor the fire where it is playing its natural role in the ecosystem and take action as needed to protect private land and sensitive natural and cultural resources in the area. Firefighters plan to continue to strategic hand and aerial ignitions this weekend to strengthen holding features along roads and trails to protect private land east of the fire.

Temperatures this weekend are expected to cool slightly and relative humidity will increase. Fire activity is expected to diminish across the fire area as widespread rain is expected to impact the area beginning as early as Saturday afternoon.

Continued smoke in the area is expected. Smoke dispersal is expected to improve on Saturday. 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 https://nmtracking.org/fire.

Approximately 56 personnel are assigned to the fire. Resources include one helicopter, three engines, the 8-person Black Hills Wildland Fire Module (a crew that specializes in fire effects monitoring, ignition, holding, line construction, and long-term planning), one 20-person state crew, one 4-person state Rapid Extraction Module (REM) team (a group of responders that can extract an injured firefighter if needed), and miscellaneous support personnel.

The Lava 18 Fire is located approximately 19 miles southwest of Grants, NM on the National Park Service (NPS) El Malpais National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) El Malpais National Conservation area. Cooperators include New Mexico State Forestry, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Forest service. The lightning-ignited fire was reported on August 22, 2019. Vegetation in the area consists mostly of ponderosa pine and mixed grasses, with some Douglas fir, piñon, and juniper in places.

Fire information is available on https://inciweb.nwcg.gov and https://nmfireinfo.com.

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