Lightning strikes are suspected to be the cause of two wildfires, one in Water Canyon, and another named Timber Peak.
Courtesy photo

Cibola National Forest firefighters responded Monday to two lightning-caused wildfires in the Water Canyon area in the Magdalena Ranger District.

The Water Canyon Fire was discovered at 2:43 p.m. Due to the steep rocky terrain, U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded with smoke jumpers, rappelers and air attack. Resources include USFS Salmon Rappelers from Central Idaho, Lincoln National Forest Smokey Bear Hot Shots, Idaho City Hot Shots, and two water tenders from Valencia County and Rio Community. Two type-2 helicopters on the scene are conducting water drops.

As of Tuesday, the Water Canyon Fire burned 80 acres and was zero percent contained. The fire did not pose a threat to any values at risk or communities, and there were no evacuations in effect.

A second fire, the Timber Peak Fire southwest of Water Canyon Road, was discovered Monday at 3:37 p.m. The fire was contained at .04 acres and crews were mopping up by 5:45 p.m. that afternoon.

The health and safety of firefighters and the public are always the first priority. Members of the public should stay away from fire operations. Drones pose a serious risk to firefighting and can cause air operations to cease. The public is reminded, “If you fly, we can’t!”

Smoke may be visible in the surrounding areas of Highway 60 in Magdalena, Socorro, San Antonio, and within a 50-mile radius of the Water Canyon fire. 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 Environmental Public Health Tracking website

The fire danger in the Magdalena Ranger District has been elevated to Very High. Fire managers consider several factors when elevating the fire danger level. The Fire Danger Rating is calculated by measuring the dryness of wood, grass and other combustible material, weather conditions and the terrain. The combination of these factors results in one of five fire danger levels: low, moderate, high, very high, and extreme.