Update: On Saturday morning, the Pine Park Fire was at 75 percent containment and exhibiting minimal fire behavior. The size was 31 acres. The US Forest Service issued its final update on the fire, unless conditions warrant additional information. Twenty-six firefighters were still on the scene Saturday morning.
A fire started in the Magdalena Ranger District on Thursday afternoon. It is the first fire in the Magdalena Ranger District for the season.
The Pine Park Fire is located in the Datil Mountains and began three miles northwest of Datil on Thursday at 2 p.m., according to a press release from Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands. Officials are monitoring traffic on Highway 60. The cause of the fire is unknown, and the size is 15 to 20 acres.
As of Friday morning, containment was at 0 percent. The fire is exhibiting moderate fire behavior with isolated torching.
There are 65 firefighters from Cibola National Forest, Datil, Horse Mountain, Pie Town and Quemado Fire Departments on the scene with fire engines, a hand crew, a helicopter, air tankers, water tenders and retardant drops. Crews worked through the night to continue to secure the fire edge, and the fire remains the same approximate size as Thursday.
There are structures nearby, but as of Friday there is no risk to those structures and no evacuations in place, said District Fire Management Officer Ken Watkins.
Members of the public should stay away from Pine Park Fire operations. If traveling through on Highway 60, slow down and be conscientious of workers. 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 may be visible in surrounding areas including Datil, Pie Town, Alamo and Magdalena. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures.
A high wind warning is in effect until Saturday. As of Friday morning, there are above normal temperatures with humidity at 23 percent, 10-mile visibility and drought conditions. Winds are 8 mph to the south.
Wildfire danger peaks between April and August.
“We’re pretty used to being in dry conditions in Socorro and Catron County, but this year is shaping up to be an exceptionally dry year and we’ve had a number of wind events in the past few weeks,” said Watkins. “When you add those two together there’s opportunity for an extremely challenging fire to happen.”
Extra fire precautions will be helpful this year, he said, as it has the potential to be a very challenging year for wildfire.
“You will keep hearing that fire seasons keep getting longer and we’re starting to call them fire years.”
There is a burn ban in effect in Socorro County. Due to dangerous drought conditions and high fire danger, Socorro County Commissioners enacted a limited burn ban for unincorporated areas of Socorro County, effective Monday, April 18. Without a permit, campfires, open fires, open burning of vegetation or rubbish or any other smoke-producing substance and material that creates a fire safety hazard are banned. The Cibola National Forest is in the process of going into fire restrictions, which probably will not take place until the beginning of May, said Watkins.
Fire updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website and the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands website and social media. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found at nmtracking.org.