19 Apr 2008, 11:47am
New Mexico
by admin

Trigo Fire

Where: Cibola National Forest, Torrance Co., New Mexico

Specific Location: South of Capilla Peak

Date of Origin: 04/15/2008 at 1555 hrs

Situation as of 05/13/08
Total Personnel: ???
Size: 13,709 acres
Percent Contained: 100% on 05/11/08

Significant Events: Suppression rehab hould be completed by today. Management of the fire is being transferred to a Type 3 (local) IMT. On Monday the Trigo Fire was again tested with record low humidity and strong winds with gusts in excess of 40 mph. Late in the afternoon a small patch of unburned fuel well within the fire perimeter actively burned. This caused calls to the Information Center regarding fire activity. Immediate contact from Operations people in the field confirmed this was not a threat to the containment line.

Winds 5 to 10 mph becoming west 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon with gusts up to 30 mph. Weather mostly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms in the evening, then isolated rain showers after midnight. Chance of precipitation 70 %.

Flash Flood Warning: Communities and homes downstream from the Trigo wildfire will be especially susceptible to flooding from this rain event. This includes the area found between the communities of Manzano and Torreon. Drainages of concern include New, Cuervo, Jaral and Torreon canyons.


Situation as of 05/12/08
Total Personnel: 356
Size: 13,709 acres
Percent Contained: 100%


Situation as of 05/08/08
Total Personnel: 667
Size: 13,709 acres
Percent Contained: 75%

Current Wind Conditions 32 mph W
Current Temperature 72 degrees
Current Humidity 12 %


Situation as of 05/07/08
Total Personnel: 774
Size: 13,680 acres
Percent Contained: 60%

New Mexico remains on Red Flag Warning for strong winds.

FEMA began a preliminary damage assessment on Tuesday in the areas affected by the Trigo Fire. A federal declaration request had been made and accepted by FEMA prior to the blow up 04/30. At that time nine homes had been burned. The count is now ~60 homes destroyed by the Trigo Fire.


Situation as of 05/06/08
Total Personnel: 806
Size: 13,680 acres
Percent Contained: 55%

The evacuation of the Sherwood Forest subdivision has been lifted by Torrance County Civil Authorities. Residents of Sherwood Forest can now enter the subdivision.

Returning residents should be alert for hazards such as concealed pockets of burning embers, burned trees that could fall and downed electric lines.


Situation as of 05/05/08:
Total Personnel 809
Size: 13,680 acres
Percent Contained 50%

An official damage assessment is expected this afternoon.


Situation as of 05/04/08:
Total Personnel 472+
Size 13,790 acres
Percent Contained 35 %

In addition to the 50 homes burned in the blow up, one communications tower (the easternmost facility) has been heavily damaged.

Trigo fire progession map [here] (courtesy InciWeb)

Current Wind Conditions: 10-20 mph NW
Current Temperature: 55 degrees
Current Humidity: 16 %


Situation as of 05/03/08:
Total Personnel 472+
Size 13,790 acres
Percent Contained 35 %

Summary: Torrance County Sheriff’s Department will continue to assess damage today. Currently it appears less than one hundred homes were damaged. As there is active fire still in the area the threat for damage still remains. There is a strong law enforcement presence and no looting is occurring. [here]

Update 11:00 PM: KRQE TV is reporting that 50 homes were burned in the blow up of 05/01. See comments.


Situation as of 05/02/08:
Total Personnel 472
Size 13,790 acres
Percent Contained 35 %

Summary: 600 families evacuated homes in the Torreon and Tajique area. Affected areas include Sufi Campground, Sherwood Forest, Apple Mountain Campground and Ten Pines Road. Residents were asked to evacuate to the Estancia Community Center at Williams Street in Estancia where the American Red Cross has set up.

More than a dozen homes burned yesterday, possibly twice that many. High winds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph have made aerial firefighting all but impossible. Heavy smoke obscures views.



The Trigo Fire has jumped containment lines and more than doubled to 11,360 acres.

Situation as of 05/01/08:
Total Personnel 182
Size 11,360 acres
Percent Contained ???

Cost to date: ???

Summary - Around 3 p.m. yesterday wind gusts up to 50 mph carried an ember approximately ½ mile North of the containment line. Winds were from the Southwest to the Northeast pushing the fire from the New Canyon area toward Capilla Peak and Forest Road 55 (Torreon and Tajique Loop Road).

A Type One team was ordered when the surrounding communities were determined to be in the path of the fire.

At 3:35 p.m. the Torrance County Emergency Office started evacuations in the area of Ten Pines Road, Sherwood Subdivision and later Torreon, SUFI Camp, and the FR 55 Loop Road were included. An Evacuation center is on stand-by at the Estancia Community Center and can be opened at a moments notice. Livestock is being accepted at Torrance County Fairgrounds.

Road closures are at West bound Hwy 55 at Junction 55 and Hwy 337 and Abshire Rd./Ewing Highway.

Two air tankers with a lead plane continued to drop retardant until dark. Firefighters were fighting the fire on the flanks.

The type 3 team will transition to a Type 1 Team (Whitney) today. Additional resources are on order. Torrance County Emergency Management will be holding a meeting today at 1pm in the Estancia Community Center.

Wind: 10-25 mph NW, with gusts to 55 mph
Current Temperature: 57 degrees
Current Humidity: 8-12 %

Estimated Containment Date: 12/29/2008 at hrs.


Situation as of 04/26/08:
Total Personnel 478
Size 4,910 acres
Percent Contained 59%

Cost to date: $4,800,000

Reduced wind allowed firefighters to hold and extend lines Friday. Outlook is good for containment by Monday.

A community meeting is scheduled for this evening at 6:00 PM in the Torreon Community Center. Possible natural resource restorative measures for those affected by the fire will be discussed. The local chapter of the American Red Cross has provided a toll free number (1-800-560-2302) for those needing assistance whose homes were lost or damaged by the Trigo fire.

Congressional staffers, the Mayor of Mountainair and officials from Claunch Soil and Water Conservation District visited ICP today for a tour and briefing. New Canyon Road to Capilla Peak remains closed from the Forest boundary west. Red Canyon campground remains closed, and Forest Road 358 into Bartolo Canyon is blocked due to firefighter activity.

Beehive Fire (8 mi. N of the Trigo Fire and part of the Trigo Complex)

Situation as of 04/26/08:
Total Personnel 187
Size 325 acres
Percent Contained 40%

Three Type I (Hotshots) crews were transported to the fire via helicopter and one Type II crew transported off the fire. Resources are spiked out (camped onsite) and will continue to build line and secure perimeter.


Situation as of 04/25/08:
Total Personnel 509
Size 4,910 acres
Percent Contained 53%

Cost to date: $4,500,000

A frontal passage yesterday evening brought a change in wind direction, from southwest to northwest, causing some concern along the southern flank but reducing the threat to the Capilla Peak Observatory north of the fire. Firefighters were battered by gusty winds yesterday as they continued to strengthen control lines. Strong, gusty winds prevented the use of air tankers, and only three bucket drops were made by a heavy helicopter before air operations were suspended.

The Trigo Fire is now under a unified command with New Mexico State Forestry.


Situation as of 04/24/08:
Total Personnel 506
Size 4,600 acres
Percent Contained 46%

Cost to date: $3,800,000

Current Wind Conditions 28-35 mph SW
Current Temperature 78 degrees
Current Humidity 8 to 12 %

Today will be a critical day in maintaining control of the Trigo Fire. Extreme wind conditions are expected between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

The fire is moving north up Capilla Peak. The east and west extremities of the fire have cooled down and rehabilitation efforts are underway in those areas. The area below Capilla Peak however, continues to provide resistance.

The University of New Mexico’s Capilla Peak Observatory is threatened.

Aircraft will fly today as wind conditions permit, dropping retardant and water as needed.


Situation as of 04/23/08:
Total Personnel 524
Size 4,425 acres
Percent Contained 36%

Cost to date: $3,200,000

Air tankers dropped 82,000 gallons of retardant on hotspots Tuesday, while heavy helicopters dowsed flames with about 40,000 gallons of water. Tankers and helicopters will continue to make drops today. The Belen Alexander Municipal Airport is being used as a helibase. Type I heavy helicopters are dipping water from Manzano Lake.

Winds still strong, 28-33 mph W

Fuels: Pinyon-juniper; gamel oak; ponderosa pine and mixed conifer.

Evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday for Torreon and Manzano, although residents should remain on alert in case the fire changes directions. The New Canyon area remains closed at this time. National Interagency Coordination Center reports 20 structures lost.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson toured the fire yesterday. Friday he will meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this week to discuss three American hostages being held by rebel forces in Colombia.


Situation as of 04/22/08:
Total Personnel 389
Size 4,130 acres
Percent Contained 27%

High winds have moderated. Torrance County’s emergency management director lifted voluntary evacuations Tuesday morning for Torreon and Manzano.

About 14,000 tons of fire retardant were dropped on the blaze Monday, while helicopters dumped water on hot spots. A flare-up occurred on the western side of the fire in Valencia County near Meadowlake at around 2 p.m. Monday.

Fire crews from Sun City, Surprise, Peoria, and Mesa fire departments are assisting, as well as firefighters from the Phoenix area.

Officials estimate the cost of fighting the blaze at $2,300,000 to date. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved New Mexico’s request to help pay for state and local efforts to fight the Trigo fire. The FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grant covers 75 % of eligible firefighting costs, while local governments pay for 25 percent.


Situation as of 04/21/08:
Total Personnel 387
Size 3,745 acres
Percent Contained 10%

Evacuation Notice: At 3:00 PM yesterday the residents of Manzano and Torreon were ordered to evacuate by the Torrance County Office of Emergency Services.

Winds are SW 30 mpg and the fire is moving NE. The fire traveled three miles within five hours, producing flame lengths of 100 - 200 feet. A convection column sent embers a half mile or more beyond the fire front.

Wind-driven flames jumped a fire contingency line and crossed the Cibola National Forest boundary onto private land Sunday, roaring onto flatter land with grass and shrubs.As of 6:00 PM today nine homes, nine outbuildings and two recreational vehicles have been reported burned. Hundreds of homes in and near Manzano are reported threatened. No personal injuries have been reported.

The University of New Mexico’s Capilla Peak Observatory is also threatened.

Officials estimate the cost of fighting the blaze to date at $1,870,000.


Situation as of 04/20/08:
Total Personnel 335
Size 1,320 acres
Percent Contained 30%


Update 04/20/08: 20 mph winds gusting to 35 mph are making containment difficult.

Crews attempted to deepen the black line between the fire front and the northern perimeter of the fire by consuming unburned fuel with drip torches. However, single digit humidity and strong south winds forced suspension of the effort about midday. Conditions caused some interior runs and spotting over containment lines, but all spots were quickly corralled or extinguished with retardant. Air tankers and helicopters dropped 65,000 gallons of retardant on hot spots and in front of flame fronts. - InciWeb report 6:00 AM 4/20/08

A public meeting was held in Torreon, NM yesterday with ~80 residents in attendance. Manzano and Torreon residents remain on standby for possible evacuations.


Situation as of 04/18/08:
Total Personnel 335
Size 1,160 acres
Percent Contained 30%
Estimated Containment Date 04/24/2008

Summary as of 04/18/08: Steep, rugged terrain and canyon winds continue to challenge containment efforts on the Trigo Fire. The fire made an active run to the East side of Osha Peak Wednesday night due to high winds from the passage of a cold front.

Cloudy conditions, cool temperatures and higher relative humidity aided firefighters in the containment effort yesterday. Air tankers and helicopters continued to be used as wind conditions allowed.

As the fire continues to grow, Cowie’s Type II Team and district fire personnel have developed strategies actively working contingency lines between the head of the fire and the local communities. The next two days will be important in the direction of this fire and suppression effort.

Evacuations: There are currently NO community evacuations; however, east Manzano residents are asked to be prepared in case the need for evacuations arises. Have personal items such as important papers, prescriptions and pictures packed and ready to go in case there is a need for evacuation.

Area residents are urged to be aware of increased fire traffic on highway 47 southeast of Belen, highway 60 from the highway 47 junction to Mountainair, Forest Road 33 (access to the closed JFK Campground).

Closures: Forest Road 245 to Capilla Peak and Red Canyon Campground are closed until further notice.

Basic Information:
Incident Type Wildland Fire
Cause Under Investigation
New Mexico Type II IMT assigned, IC Craig Cowie

Outlook: Planned Actions Continue constructing fireline and burnout areas if possible. Continue to construct contingency line w/dozers on East flank for protection of the communities on the east side of Manzano Mtns. Continue to reduce fuels and provide structure protection surrounding the radio/communication towers.

Projected Movement Wind driven to the NE

Growth Potential High

Terrain Difficulty Extreme

Remarks Increase of 360 acres due to last night’s IR mapping, no growth in fire perimiter occurred today. Smoke Data: 80 acres of FM10 (20 tons per acre), 40 acres of FM19 (15 tons per acre), 140 acres of FM5(7 tons per acre).

No maps available at this time. See GEOMAC Viewer [here], Trigo Fire

Fire progression:

04/16 __ 400 acs
04/17 __ 650
04/18 __ 800
04/19 __ 1,160
04/20 __ 1,320
04/21 __ 3,750
04/22 __ 4,130
04/23 __ 4,425
04/24 __ 4,600
04/25 __ 4,910
05/01 __ 11,700
05/02 __ 13,790
05/04 __ 13,790
05/05 __ 13,680 (adjusted)
05/08 __ 13,709 (readjusted)

1 May 2008, 8:04pm
by Mike

Updated: May 1, 2008 05:51 PM PDT

Air assault resumes as Trigo Fire nears villages [here]

TAJIQUE, N. M. (KRQE) - Late this afternoon firefighters on the ground and in the air were working to save homes as the raging Trigo Fire spread into lowland forest between the villages of Tajique and Torreón.

The air assault, stymied all day by turbulence over the higher country of Manzano Mountains, resumed near the villages. An unknown number of homes and other structures have been destroyed since ferocious winds breathed new life into the fire on Wednesdays.

Since then the flames have rushed through about 7,000 acres bringing the estimated size of the 17-day-old fire to 12,000 acres.

Today high winds continued to push the fire in several directions and frustrated efforts to do any fire fighting from the air.

From Skyranger reporter-pilot Bob Martin described the Trigo Fire as very active and moving on two fronts, one near Tajique, the other farther south near Torreón.

The fire was crowning through the thick forest literally exploding in the heavy timber.

In those conditions firefighters on the ground can do nothing to slow flames. People just have to get out of the way.

For most of the day the only air activity was a solitary command plane called Air Attack surveying the scene and monitoring the air turbulence.

Although air tankers can often fly in relatively high wind, they cannot safely navigate the rough terrain and drop retardant in severe turbulence.

Frustrating crews in the air and on the ground is the loss of more homes in this newest surge by the Trigo. Numerous homes have been lost in the last 24 hours and many more are in immediate danger.

2 May 2008, 9:25am
by Mike

Trigo Fire consuming homes, forest — from KRQE TV online

Updated: May 2, 2008 12:10 AM PDT [here]

TAJIQUE, N. M. (KRQE) - Many of the 200 people evacuated in advance of the rampaging Trigo Fire don’t know what they’ll return to although it’s clear tonight that more houses and cabins have been burned.

The fire continued to swallow up homes at it raced north. Fire officials have not been able to assess the damage, but it’s possible a couple dozen homes are now gone.

“We knew if we got a fire on the Tajique-Torreón side that that was it,” Emila Montoya of Tajique said. “That was it for all of us.”

KRQE News 13 pilot and reporter Bob Martin spotted one structure on fire from Skyranger this afternoon.

From the air it was hard to tell if it was a cabin or a workshop of some kind. This structure was west of the community of Torreón. More buildings near Torreón and Tajique have also burned.

Both communities and nearby areas were evacuated as the flames spread closer.

Martin said he counted 16 structures that have burned in the past 24 hours. They were homes, cabins and other structures; the fire is not discriminating.

“It’s all gone,” one woman said. “I found the perfect place to live, and it’s all gone.”

Firefighters on the ground scrambled into place to protect what homes they could, but the fire was consuming houses faster than crews can save them.

Residents who have been evacuated are watching the fire, wondering if their homes are next to go.

“I think it’s pretty much gone,” Larry Steppe, a Sherwood Forest resident, said. “We evacuated last week and they said it was 93 percent contained.

“They pulled their guys out yesterday, and then: Boom.”

The people in these communities are all coming together to help each other out. Some people are relying on the American Red Cross and are staying at the shelter set up in Estancia at the community center.

Torrance County sheriff’s deputies have been patrolling behind the fire lines, checking on homes and asking people to evacuate.

They’re protecting against looters who might target homes that have been evacuated although so far there’s no report of that.

2 May 2008, 10:05pm
by Mike

From KRQE [here]

Aerial video from Skyranger today showed several streets there that have rows of homes missing. One unconfirmed estimate puts the loss of homes at more than a dozen.

A source told KRQE News 13 an estimated 30 structures-homes and outbuildings-may have burned in Sherwood Forest while another dozen survived.

At a meeting today for evacuees fire managers showed a map of the fire and where it has spread.

The villages of Torreón and Tajique were spared, they said. The fire also has not crossed State Road 55, but it did go through the Sherwood Forest subdivision and the west side of Ten Pines.

“Today it’s better because yesterday the winds were blowing east and you could just see the fire and flames and the wind was the worst I’ve ever seen it that day,” Tajique resident Amada Archuleta said. “I was really scared it was going to burn Tajique.

“Now I feel a lot better that it’s not going to, and I just pray for rains and I pray that the wind isn’t going to head east again.”

Today’s northwestern winds are not as heavy as on Thursday. Firefighters said the cool overnight temperatures also helped.

More than 400 firefighters were working on the ground today.

As officials continue to identify structures lost they are also deciding how they will notify residents either in a public forum or individually.

3 May 2008, 12:12pm
by Mike

Before the blow up on 5/01, fire costs were estimated to be $5.2 million. No updated figure has been released post-blow up as yet.

3 May 2008, 11:29pm
by Mike

From KRQE [here]

TORREÓN, N.M. (KRQE) - While they’re not being allowed to return to their homes, residents are now finding out that 50 homes have been destroyed since the Trigo fire jumped its containment lines on Wednesday.

Officials at a meeting on Saturday didn’t release a timeframe, but said residents would be allowed back into the towns of Torreón, Tajique and nearby areas soon.

They also released more information about why the two-week-old fire jumped the containment lines on Wednesday, burning 9,000 acres on top of the 5,000 or so that had already burned. An island of dry fuel that was inside the containment lines caught fire, and heavy winds carried embers for miles over the containment lines.

Crews will be monitoring winds and burning pockets of fuel with helicopters and on the ground when it’s safe, officials said at the meeting.

Also, officials told residents, the crews will remain on the scene and wait until another windy day to make sure the lines hold.

By Saturday evening, the fire was 35 percent contained. Crews expect to gain more containment through the night thanks to calmer weather.



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