New Mexico and Southern Colorado Pray For Rain
NEW MEXICO – June 4, 2018
After thunderstorms crossed the site of the Ute Park Fire in northeastern New Mexico on Sunday and aided firefighting efforts, dry weather is on tap early this week.
The fire, which is burning about 70 miles northeast of Santa Fe, has consumed more than 36,000 acres and destroyed buildings on the famed Philmont Scout Ranch.
Nearly 500 fire personnel are currently battling the blaze, which was at 23 percent containment as of late Sunday evening, according to the US forest service.
Rain helped to prevent the fire from another day of rapid growth on Sunday and aided containment efforts, which had previously been unsuccessful, on the fire's southern and eastern flanks.
The fire has grown rapidly since starting on Thursday, stoked by low humidity and high temperatures raged in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
According to an alert from the New Mexico fire information website on Sunday evening, the fire was threatening nearly 500 structures in Cimarron a town of about 1,100 people northeast of Santa Fe, where officials issued a mandatory evacuation order on Friday.
Evacuation orders were also issued for residents of Ute Park on Saturday night, where over 200 residences still remained threatened by the fire.
Fortunately, no fatalities or injuries have been reported.
On the Philmont Scout Ranch, 14 structures were destroyed, but to the moment no danger in the area has been reported.
The Ute Park Fire is not the only blaze threatening lives and property across the Desert Southwest. Six large wildfires are burning across New Mexico and southwestern Colorado, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
A second wildfire started on Friday about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado, raging across 1,100 acres and forcing the evacuation of the residents of about 500 homes near the southern border of the San Juan National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service said.
Officials of La Plata County, Colorado, said they opened evacuation centers after ordering residents out of about 825 homes and issuing pre-evacuation notices for residents of another 760 homes.
The fire, known as Fire 416, has forced the evacuation of 1,500 people north of Durango, Colorado.
This fire started on Friday morning and had burned over 2,250 acres as of Sunday evening, Inciweb reported. Firefighters have worked to contain 10 percent of the blaze.
The area has been experiencing abnormally dry weather and is currently in an exceptional drought. This is one of several factors, including the discovery of over 100 unattended campfires following Memorial Day celebrations, which led to a recent decision to close Santa Fe National Forest to all recreational activities. This was despite an official ban on all campfires that has been in place since early May.
The cause of the Ute Park and 416 fires remains under investigation.