Update: Sunday (Oct. 18), Noon
The fire has been mapped at 7,445 acres, according to information on the Fire, Weather and Avalanche Center website with data from the Carson National Forest.
Outfitter James Duran saw a big red plume of smoke up Luna Canyon about 7:15 p.m. Saturday night (Oct. 17) and knew that meant trouble. He called his dad Martín Duran and they met out at the family's Luna Canyon Cattle Company ranch. The flames were visible above the canyon wall in an area that sits close to the border of Taos and Mora counties.
"It was about two miles from us up Luna Canyon," said Martín Duran in a text from the ranch Sunday (Oct. 18). "I came from Las Vegas (N.M.) and a few friends showed up and we started cutting fire lines around the house with bulldozers and a skid steer."
The winds kept shifting and it was hard to tell which way the fire was burning. At risk were the three houses, trailer and two barns on their property. By Sunday morning the fire, which had burned more than 1,000 acres and was still moving, seemed to have slowed in its path toward the ranch with other portions burning across Lujan Canyon, La Junta and toward Guadulapita.
"It was a long night," Duran said. "No one slept."
A fire management team is in place mapping the size of the fire and working to get more resources in. At 9:30 a.m. it was estimated at more than 1,000 acres. The fires is "burning two miles north and northeast of Chacon, New Mexico," according to a press release from the Carson National Forest. "Smoke (and the smell of fire) may be visible in the surrounding communities of Angel Fire, Black Lake, Guadalupita, Mora and Taos. There is no direct threat to these communities at this time."
The cause of the fire remains unknown and under investigation. People are urged to avoid Forest Road 76.
The fire is burning in 9,000 to 11,000 foot elevation with the primary fuel source being thick stands of mixed spruce and ponderosa pine.
Several people in Taos and some who had family in Chacon, a village of a couple hundred people, or were driving to Chacon, said on social media that they saw a flash before the smoke and flames were visible. Some thought a plane had crashed. James Duran told his grandmother Lucille Trujillo he had seen what he described as an "explosion" before seeing flames.
A message to the Federal Aviation Administration seeking information was not immediately returned. The FAA list of crashes and fatalities was only updated through Friday (Oct. 16).
Eagle Nest Lake was closed to boaters beginning at 9:30 a.m. Sunday since the lake water might be needed by helicopters to fight the blaze, according to the Angel Fire Fire Department. "There is no current threat to Angel Fire, but we are monitoring the situation closely. Trigger points have been established for evacuations in several communities in Mora County and we will assist as needed."
Paula Garcia, a former Mora County Commissioner and executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, who lives in Mora, said she was up all night talking to people about what was happening. "I love those mountains," she said.
Rick Romancito contributed to this report.