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SF seeing little impact from fires

SANTA FE – Vast plumes of smoke may continue to be visible from downtown, but the ongoing wildfires in the Pecos Wilderness and other areas appear so far to have had a minimal economic effect on Santa Fe – and local officials and others are trying to keep it that way.

A news release issued by city government last week declared that “forest fires burning in Northern New Mexico are well removed from the city of Santa Fe and are not disrupting the city’s busy summer schedule.”

The fires “that you might have seen on the news” are more than 20 miles from city limits and haven’t affected a planned summer tourism season of art markets, opera performances and other events, the statement said.

City spokesperson Jodi McGinnis Porter told the

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Journal that city leaders decided to issue the release after getting calls from people outside New Mexico who wondered if they should cancel trips to the City Different.

“On a national level when you start hearing from people coming to New Mexico from out of state and they’re concerned about the fires and the smoke and the situation, we’re concerned as a city that the fires may dampen tourism,” she said.

The local community has a good awareness of what’s going on but “watch the national news and all you see is the state burning down,” Porter said.

“We want to spread the word and get the message out that we’re open for business, come and visit,” she said.

So far this year, more than 30,000 acres have burned in two mountain ranges near Santa Fe: the remote Jaroso Fire in the Pecos Wilderness east of Española; the Tres Lagunas Fire burning in the Pecos Canyon, the majority of which has now been contained; and the Thompson Ridge Fire blazing in and near the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. Smoke from the fires can be seen and smelled around Santa Fe.

Most of Santa Fe National Forest is still open, although there are fire restrictions, but the Pecos Wilderness in the Sangre de Cristos has been closed.

Norbert Relecker, general manager of the Eldorado Hotel, said he’s had about a dozen cancellations from customers citing the fires as a reason. However, Relecker also mused that the fires may have been a convenient excuse for some of those cancellations.

“The more the press whips this up and makes this a big story,” the worse it could be for tourism, Relecker said, but added that, overall, his hotel hasn’t really felt an impact from the fires yet.

“Is it on the radar? Yes. Are we worried about it at this time? No. I think our wonderful firefighters and National Guard people out there making sure that this is all protected are doing a nice job,” he said.

Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce President Simon Brackley said he isn’t hearing many concerns about the fires from local businesses.

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