8 a.m., July 9
The Ojo La Casa Fire near Chilili expanded overnight and is now estimated at 90 acres, with no containment, according to Arlene Perea of the Forest Service.
The fire broke out yesterday afternoon near N.M. 337 and Aceves Road. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but under investigation, she said.
Unlike some fires in the Manzanos in rough terrain, 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 meant “fire activity [has] slowed quite a bit,” Perea said.
Several air tanker loads and helicopters bucket dumps were been put on the fire yesterday, Perea said.
Voluntary evacuations were started last night in the area near Manzano Morning Drive, with evacuees being sent to the Tajique Community Center.
Preparations are underway to use the Torrance County Fairgrounds in case large animals and livestock need to be evacuated.
“As fire activity slowed overnight, crews worked diligently to establish a line around a large section of the fire,” Perea said in a press release. “Smoke from the fire will likely become more visible as the day heats up. Air resources will be used as available and necessary to contain this full suppression fire.”
Two hotshot crews, several engines and other resources are currently assigned to the fire, with four hotshot crews expected to work the fire today, Perea said. “The Albuquerque Type 3 Incident Management Team will take over management of the fire today. They provide the ability to further support the firefighters on the ground as well as assist the district in the management of the fire.”
The Ojo La Casa fire is roughly seven miles southwest of Chilili and nine miles northwest of Tajique, in an area considered the “neck” of the Dog Head, and the southeast portion of the fire has burned back into the 2016 Dog Head Fire burn scar, Perea said. “Although fire activity appears to have died down overnight, all residents in the area are encouraged to pay close attention to this fire and have a plan in case evacuations become necessary.”
For more information, contact Perea at 505-506-1959.
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 email@example.com.