New Fire Start on SFNF: Caja Fire

Start date: Aug. 23, 2020         

Cause: Presumed to be lightning           

Size: Approximately 15 acres

Location: On the Caja del Rio Plateau on the Española Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF)

Containment: 0%

Fuels and fire behavior: The Caja Fire is burning in pinon-juniper on top of Colorado Peak. Winds helped push the fire to the north face where it is exhibiting low to moderate fire behavior. There are no immediate values at risk, although natural and cultural resources and a powerline are in proximity.

Resources: Firefighters from the Española Ranger District and Santa Fe County responded to the smoke report Sunday evening. Aerial support from the Medio Fire dropped retardant on it last night, which helped slow its spread.  Two SFNF engines are on the fire today, with another engine en route from the Southern Pueblos Agency. Two SFNF cultural resource advisors are also on scene today. A 12-person hand crew will arrive from Arizona tomorrow. Air attack from the Medio Fire will continue to assist as needed. 

Weather: Higher-than-normal temperatures and low humidities are expected for the rest of the week with daily rounds of scattered to isolated showers and thunderstorms. Many of those storm cells will bring little to no rain with erratic wind gusts. Winds are out of the south at 15-20 mph.  

Strategy: The strategy for the Caja Fire is full suppression. Firefighters are looking for opportunities to use the two-track road and natural barriers in conjunction with firing operations to contain the fire.

Safety: The health and safety of firefighters and the public are always the first priority. Firefighters are conducting operations under protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. Members of the public should stay away from fire operations and staging areas.  Drones pose a serious risk to firefighting and can cause air operations to cease. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t!”

Smoke from the Caja Fire is likely to be visible from Santa Fe to Los Alamos and along the I-25 corridor and the 599 Bypass, mingling with smoke from the Medio Fire and multiple fires burning in adjacent states. An interactive smoke map at https://fire.airnow.gov/ allows you to zoom into the Santa Fe area to see the latest smoke information. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.

Fire updates will be posted on the SFNF website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Santa Fe National Forest Facebook page and Twitter @SantafeNF.

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