A wildfire that ignited Monday night in a remote area near Rio en Medio, east of Tesuque, had grown to more than 150 acres by late Tuesday and was pushing east, away from populated areas and into the wilderness, forest officials said.
Julie Anne Overton, a spokeswoman for Santa Fe National Forest, said no structures were in danger of burning and there were no evacuations in place.
Firefighters had to hike about a mile and half to reach it, she added.
People living in the areas around the fire, including Santa Fe, should expect smoke to settle in overnight and last through Wednesday, she said. The plume of smoke is likely to be visible within a 50-mile radius of the fire, which was burning Tuesday about two miles southeast of the Nambé Reservoir and about five miles northwest of the Santa Fe ski basin.
By the afternoon, smoke had already settled in between the mountains near the communities of Chupadero and Rio en Medio.
Rebecca Perez, who lives nearby, said she was concerned about the effects of the smoke because her 8-year-old son has asthma and because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They live in very humble housing, Perez said, and do not have air filters or other equipment to manage the smoke.
This is the second fire in the area since the family moved to Chupadero about nine years ago, Perez said.
A scar left by the previous blaze, the 2011 Pacheco Fire, could help slow down this one.
As the Medio Fire moves eastward toward the Pecos Wilderness, it is expected to hit the burn scar from the Pacheco Fire, Santa Fe National Forest officials said in a news release.
“The thing in question here is whether, in the last nine years, what the fuel situation is under that burn scar,” Overton said.
The fire was entirely uncontained by the early evening, forest officials said in the news release, but the goal was full suppression.
“Fire managers are developing a containment strategy based on the remote location of the fire and the difficulty of the terrain,” the news release said.
It urged residents to avoid the fire operations and staging areas, and it said drone use is prohibited to protect aircraft assisting with firefighting efforts.
Officials remained uncertain about the cause of the fire.
Overton said the Santa Fe emergency dispatch center first sent out a notice about smoke in the area around 7:30 p.m. Monday
Firefighters from the Española Ranger District, as well as Tesuque Pueblo and the Northern Pueblos Agency were on the scene Tuesday, according to the national forest’s news release.
The Mount Taylor Hotshot Crew from Cibola National Forest also has been called out to the fire, Overton said.
Two Hotshot crew trucks were parked at the Rio en Medio Trailhead early Tuesday evening.
A Type 3 firefighting helicopter, which can hold four to eight people and carry 100 gallons of water, was helping with the firefighting effort but had to be grounded due to lightning, Overton said.
A Type 3 fire incident commander was en route to the blaze Tuesday evening.
Fires are categorized by numbers, and the smaller the number, the bigger the response. Wildfires categorized as Type 3 or below require a command center be stationed near the scene.
Overton said the fire was in a deep drainage channel and picked up speed as it moved uphill. “It went from moderate fire behavior to extreme fire behavior when it was pushing uphill.”
Fire moves faster uphill because flames can easily reach fuel, such as dried brush or other flammable material, in front of it.
However, a weather cell passing over the area Tuesday afternoon lowered temperatures and raised the relative humidity, Overton said, “and that, combined with when the fire hit the ridge top, slowed it down.” Full credits ASP.

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