Lightning starts small fires in Carson National Forest


While California is ablaze with the biggest fire in that state's history, Northern New Mexico is mostly winding down its fire season with small, lightning caused fires throughout the forest.

"Lightning-caused wildfires are a common occurrence during the monsoon season. Recent lighting storms started two new wildfires on the Carson National Forest. These fires are minimal in size and monsoon moisture is expected to continue in the area so growth potential is expected to be minimal," said Arnold Wilson, acting public affairs officers for the Carson in a Tuesday (Aug. 7) press release.

"We want the public to know that we are being responsive even with fires spread across the West and reports of resources are thin throughout the nation at this time," he said.

Throughout July, Carson fire personnel responded to 28 lightning-caused wildfire ignitions, the most noticeable of which was the Lobo Fire, which was located two miles east of San Cristobal in the Columbine Hondo Wilderness. The Long Fire also was located in the same wilderness but just above the community of Lama. Firefighters constructed a fire line around the small blaze.

However, this month has seen the ignition of the Tetillas Fire, which was located approximately 3 miles east of Ranchos de Taos in the Río Chiquito drainage. It was discovered Monday (Aug. 6) and has grown to about one acre, according to Wilson. Local Carson firefighters, with assistance from a state-run engine, "are working their way into (the terrain to) actively begin suppressing the Tetillas fire."

The Rito Primero Fire is burning in the Rito Primero Canyon within the Latir Peak Wilderness northeast of Questa. This fire was also discovered Monday. "The lightning-caused, single tree fire is about 200 yards from a ridge line and estimated to be one-tenth of an acre. The fire was moderately visible last night in the communities of El Rito, Cerro and Questa," according to the Forest Service.

The Big Snag Fire is another lighting-caused fire surrounding a single tree. "It is a large snag that fell sometime (Tuesday) afternoon, and fire personnel constructed a line around it," he said.

Local firefighters found two abandoned campfires -- a rarity so far this summer. One was in a fire ring at Cebolla Mesa and another outside the fire ring at Trampas Trail.

The Sardinas Canyon Fire, located 18 miles southeast of Taos, remains 50 percent contained. Due to steep and inaccessible terrain, the northeast portion of the fire perimeter will not be fully contained until substantial rainfall occurs over the fire area. Road closures in the area are still in effect.