Officials: Blaze near Taos caused by person

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Investigators have determined the Sardinas Canyon Fire, which has burned more than 2,000 acres about 15 miles southeast of Taos in the Carson National Forest, was human-caused.

Austin Gonzagowski, a public information officer for the incident command team fighting the fire, said no further details about its cause will be released until the investigation is complete.

About 200 personnel continued Sunday to battle the wildfire, which grew from 85 acres to 2,100 in the past few days.

As of Sunday afternoon, the fire remained completely uncontained, Gonzagowski said.

And though firefighters may be desperately hoping for rainfall to help stem the blaze, the likelihood of a serious rainstorm hitting the area before Thursday is “very, very low,” according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

“It won’t be until Thursday when we have a decent shot of getting some rain on that fire — a 50-50 type scenario,” said Clay Anderson, a meteorologist with the weather service. Anderson said a storm moving east from the Gulf of Mexico and through Texas could hit New Mexico by Thursday afternoon or evening and “increase our moisture chances.”

Those chances of rain will increase Friday, he said. “And then, after that, it’s anyone’s guess. We may be dealing with daily rounds of storms, which could be very rain-productive.”

The blaze, which was first reported June 24, has been burning mostly aspen, high-altitude mixed conifer and subalpine fir. As of Sunday afternoon, no structures were threatened, and the U.S. Forest Service was not ordering any evacuations, Gonzagowski said.

“There are no lives at risk, we have no evacuation notices, no road closures,” he said. However, the Carson National Forest remains closed to the public.

The fire caused concerns in Santa Fe late last week when it sent up a large plume of smoke that was visible from the city.

While firefighters “could use the precip” that may come with any storm, such a disturbance may also bring erratic wind cycles and the potential for lightning strikes, which could aggravate the fire, Gonzagowski said.

Meanwhile, fire officials and the state Health Department are warning the public that people with respiratory issues or heart disease may be impacted by smoke from the blaze. For more information, visit www.nmhealth.org.

Visit www.nmfireinfo.com for an update on all wildfires in New Mexico, including the Sardinas Canyon Fire.

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