10:45 p.m., July 8

A preliminary plan for evacuation of livestock and other animals is being formed as the Ojo La Casa fire continues to burn tonight near N.M. 337 and Aceves Road.

Torrance County Emergency Manager Matt Propp said nothing is set up yet, but preliminary plans to use the Torrance County Fairgrounds for large animals and for both Bernalillo and Torrance County animal control departments to help with smaller animals, if needed.

“It doesn’t look like it will happen,” Propp said, adding that the fire is burning back toward the Dog Head Fire burn scar.

Torrance County is setting up a shelter for those who wish to evacuate at this time at the Tajique Community Center. Volunteers from CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team, were heading to the community center to help out, according to Vicki Voyles.

Arlene Perea of the Forest Service said that the size of the fire is still being estimated at 15 to 20 acres, and also said it is burning toward the Dog Head scar. It is at zero percent containment, she said.

Unlike some other fires in the Manzanos in rugged terrain that makes it difficult for fire crews to reach a fire, this one is accessible to fire trucks and personnel, Perea said.

The fire also started late enough in the day that the cooler evening temperatures mean “fire activity [has] slowed quite a bit,” Perea said.

Several air tanker loads and helicopters bucket dumps have been put on the fire, Perea said. Hot shot crews are on the way, and some might work on the fire tonight, while others will hit it first thing in the morning, she said.

“We’ve been able to get firefighters directly on it,” she said. “We’re working to dig a line around it.

Perea’s advice for those people who live in the area is to stay apprised of what’s going on with the fire. “You live in the mountains, if there’s a fire in the area, you should be aware,” she said.

She said firefighters have “caught a few breaks” and have “a chance to get dozers and boots on the ground.”

“Have a plan,” Perea said. “That’s it, you should have a plan.”

Voluntary evacuations are going on for about 20 homes in the Manzano Morning area.

The Independent will continue to monitor this story with updates as they become available.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.