Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
It’s not just the massive fire complex threatening the town of Las Vegas, N.M. Fires are ripping through New Mexico forests and causing havoc all over the state.
The Cooks Peak fire has grown to 60,000 acres about 50 miles north of Las Vegas; the Cerro Pelado Fire is six miles from Los Alamos National Laboratory and a new Bear Trap Fire sprung up Sunday in the San Mateo Mountains.
At a community meeting at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building on Monday evening, officials battling the Cerro Pelado Fire said they are working to hold the fire west of Forest Road 289 and south of N.M. Highway 4. Patrick Pearson, the incident commander, said the fire is also moving south toward Cochiti Pueblo. The communities of Cochiti Mesa and the Peralta Canyon and people who live near Valles Caldera have been told to evacuate because of the fire, according to Sandoval County Fire and Rescue.
The fire is 22,314 acres and 10% contained. It has destroyed at least three homes, according to Santa Fe National Forest officials.
Scott Stearns, the meteorologist for the fire, said that he expected windy dry conditions possibly for several days beginning Tuesday, which could complicate the firefight. He said there is no chance of precipitation until next week at the earliest.
“Tomorrow is going to be a critical fire behavior day,” Stearns said.
No evacuations are planned for Los Alamos County at the moment, but officials have told residents to start to get ready for such an order.
“We’re obviously making plans for that so we’re ready,” said Los Alamos County Fire Department Chief Troy Hughes.
The fire started April 22 about seven miles east of Jemez Springs.
In an effort to fight the fire, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed Cochiti Lake to all recreation because the reservoir is being used as a water source for aircraft in the firefight. The Cochiti and Tetilla Peak recreation areas are also closed until further notice, as are Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument.
A new fire sparked Sunday in central New Mexico. The Bear Trap Fire is burning in the San Mateo Mountains, which are part of the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest & Grasslands. The fire was 852 acres on Monday.
Burning 59,065 acres of ponderosa pine, oak brush and grass, the Cooks Peak Fire about 50 miles north of Las Vegas, N.M., was 69% contained on Monday.
The fire, which is believed to have been human caused, started April 17 and has led to evacuations in Colfax and Mora counties.
Meanwhile, the McBride Fire in Ruidoso, which destroyed more than 200 homes and killed two people last month, has moved to the “Burned Area Emergency Response” phase of the fire recovery. That means a team is in the area assessing burned watersheds and other post-wildfire threats, according to a federal fire information system.