Lincoln National Forest: Dark Canyon Fire Update August 7, 2020

Dark Canyon Fire

Jurisdiction: Smokey Bear Ranger District, Lincoln National Forest

Size: 300 acres

Cause: Lightning

Date/Time Detected: August 4, 2020 at 4:30pm

Location: 9 miles northwest of Capitan, NM north of Tuscon Mountain near Dark Canyon.

Lat/Long: 33°40’0.16″N 105°37’42.61″W

Fuel Type: Grass, piñon-juniper, ponderosa pine, dead and down forest debris

Values at Risk: Private Land

Dark Canyon Fire Map: August 7, 2020

Fire Update:  The Dark Canyon Fire on the Smokey Bear Ranger District has grown to 300 acres. The fire is in a remote part of the Lincoln National Forest about nine miles from Capitan, NM. The fire started when lightning struck in a canyon drainage filled with ponderosa pine.

When a wildfire occurs, fire managers develop a plan to suppress it where conditions and terrain are favorable, and we can do so safely without putting firefighters at unnecessary risk. Firefighters are using a full-suppression confine-and-contain strategy to hold fire growth to a defined area. The fire area contains many trees that were toppled by high winds in the past (aka blowdown).  These trees end up either on the forest floor or hung on other trees. This poses a significant hazard to fire personnel because dead timber has lower moisture levels, therefore they burn and fall more readily than live trees. Almost 10 percent of wildland firefighter fatalities occur from falling trees.

The fire is burning with low intensity, meaning it is consuming needle litter, pinecones, and fallen trees primarily on the forest floor and is not scorching the tops of the trees. These types of low-intensity fires were historically very common in the southwest, occurring every 10-35 years on average throughout history, and are a normal part of the ecosystem.

Given the low fire behavior, periodic rain and hazardous conditions firefighters are planning to hold the fire east of the 9743 Road and north of the1056 Road. Crews continue scouting containment options to the south and west.

Smoke Report: Smoke will be visible from Highway 380 and Highway 246. Recent monsoonal rains mean available fire fuels are damp. Wet vegetation and forest debris tend to produce a larger amount of white smoke that will slowly drift to the northeast toward Ramon and Vaughn, NM.

Fire updates will occur daily on the Dark Canyon Fire until no longer warranted.

PIO: Laura Rabon, 505-681-2837

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