Investigation reveals Medio Fire started by lightning

Medio Fire – August 27, 2020 Daily Update              

Acres: 2,939 acres        Start Date: August 17, 2020

Cause: Lightning          Containment: 21%           Total personnel: 263

Location: Rio en Medio Trail, Española Ranger  District, Santa Fe National Forest

Fuels: Dry mixed conifer, ponderosa pine

Highlights: After a thorough investigation at the point of origin, fire investigators have determined that the Medio Fire was caused by a lightning strike. After multiple days of challenging work in steep terrain, fire crews have connected crucial handlines around the Medio Fire.

Operations: Yesterday, the Santa Fe Hotshots focused their work along the Nambe Trail as fire slowly backed toward this northern containment line. Along the western edge, the Silver City Hotshots worked from the north while the Mt. Taylor Hotshots, Smokey Bear Hotshots, and Red River Fire Chasers came in from the south until the crews met along the western flank to create a connected line around the fire. With handline construction complete, firefighters will continue burnout operations using both aerial and hand ignitions over the next several days. The success of these operations has substantially reduced risk to homeowners along Forest Road 102. Although poor weather conditions hampered air operations yesterday, planned aerial ignitions are expected to resume today along the western flank. The Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative will begin to assess damage to powerline infrastructure, which provides electricity to Ski Santa Fe and a communications tower at Tesuque Peak. The fire is expected to continue moving east into the burn scar from the 2011 Pacheco Fire.

Community Meeting: The IMT hosted a virtual community meeting yesterday, with over 300 participants viewing the live video. A recording of the meeting is now available at No account is required to view the video. The next virtual community meeting will be held tonight at 6 pm on the Santa Fe National Forest’s Facebook page. American Sign Language interpretation and live-captioning services are provided. We will monitor online Facebook questions during the meeting, or you can email us your questions in advance at A recording will be posted immediately following the live meeting.

Closures and Restrictions: Santa Fe County will implement a burn ban beginning on Friday, August 28. Stage 1 fire restrictions are still in effect on the Santa Fe National Forest to reduce the risk for human-caused wildfire under the current dry weather conditions. There is also a closure order in effect prohibiting members of the public from entering the restricted area, including all Forest Service lands, roads and trails, within an area that is roughly defined by the Rio Nambe Trail #160 on the north, the Borrego Trail #150 and Forest Road 412 on the east, Forest Road 102 on the south and back up the forest boundary line on the west to meet the Rio Nambe Trail #160. Fire managers are asking the public to exercise caution and avoid all areas that could be impacted by the Medio Fire.

Smoke: Updated smoke and air quality information is available at Air quality is beginning to improve as out-of-state smoke starts to clear. Smoke from the Medio Fire is likely to be visible from Santa Fe and surrounding communities as well as along the I-25 and US-285 corridors. 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 at


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