1 May 2008, 10:02am
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Trigo Fire Blows Up

You may have been following the 2008 fire season on the new W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking Site [here]. If so, you might have noticed the Trigo Fire on the Cibola National Forest, Torrance Co., New Mexico. The Trigo Fire started April 15th, from human causes, probably a campfire probably left by illegals who just crossed the border.

Burning in pinyon-juniper, gamel oak, ponderosa pine, and grasses, the Trigo Fire was pushed by high winds toward the towns of Torreon and Manzano, where nine homes and nine other structures were burned.

The New Mexico Type II Incident Management Team was called in and as many as 500 firefighter fought the blaze. Fire departments from as far away as Phoenix sent support. FEMA approved New Mexico’s request to help pay for state and local efforts to fight the Trigo Fire, which exceeded $5 million. The Governor and a Congressional staffer delegation toured the scene last week.

Things settled down. It appeared the Trigo Fire was under control, 95 percent contained. Fire management transitioned to a Type III local team. Everybody went home.

Then yesterday the winds whipped up and the Trigo Fire blew up again. Embers blew over the containment lines and in a matter of hours the fire area has more than doubled from 5,000 to over 11,000 acres. Torreon has been evacuated again. The fire is climbing Capilla Peak and heading for the UNM observatory there. Highways 55 and 337 are closed.

The Southwest Area Type I IMT has been called in. Type I’s are the biggest responders, set up to handle 500 firefighters or more and all the equipment and support entailed. It costs upwards of a million dollars a day or more to fund Type I IMT efforts.

Heavy winds are expected in the area throughout the day with gusts of up to 50 miles an hour. Air tankers and water-bucket helicopters cannot be flown safely in high winds, and may not be used today.

Police are patrolling evacuated areas to prevent looting, which had been reported during the previous evacuation. At least one home has been burned during this latest blow up, and possibly many more. News is difficult to extract from any sources, but the best might be KRQE TV in Albuquerque [here]. (And it isn’t much; if you know of better news sources, please let me know).

The 2008 Fire Season has gotten off to a running start. More than 700,000 acres have burned in Texas (mostly grasslands). Two fires have erupted in Southern California, one near Santa Anita and one near Palm Springs. The latter is the Apache Fire and has closed the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Jacinto Wilderness. Arizona has had three major fires already, one burning today near the Grand Canyon and another, the Alamo Fire, that burned on both sides of the International Border. Like the Trigo Fire, the Alamo Fire might have been set by illegal immigrants. The lightning season has not started yet in the Southwest.

We are doing our best to track all these fires on the W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking Site [here]. Your assistance with information is greatly appreciated. Already SOSF stalwarts have chipped in some key news regarding the Apache Fire and earlier blazes in the Southwest. Thank you, Greg, Bob, and Wayne!



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