Four small fires were reported this week in the East Mountains and Estancia Valley. On April 7, a fire started near Oak Flat picnic area in the Sandia Ranger District; fire crews had the fire completely contained on April 8, according to a press release from the Forest Service.

The fire remained at under half an acre, and the cause is still under investigation, according to the Forest Service.

On April 2, a fire started in the field off of N.M. 41. Moriarty Fire Chief Todd Hart said the fire was caused by an accident farther up the highway. He said a car hit a power line and the sparks lit the field and surrounding vegetation on fire.

“A lot of brush and a lot of trees were on fire,” Torrance County Fire Chief Don Dirks said. “It was a hot fire. We had to close [41] for a while.” He said the highway was closed for about an hour as the team suppressed the fire.

Dirks also reported a small fire over the weekend off of Interstate 40 on the westbound side of the freeway at mile marker 223.

Dirks said the size of the fire was “about an acre” and was caused by a vehicle. He said fire crews found pieces of burned tires in the burn area as they were putting out the fire. He said a fire crew got there fast, there was no wind and the fire was put out quickly.

Mountainair District Ranger Ernest Taylor reported one small abandoned campfire off of Forest Road 422 near Ox Canyon in the Manzanos. He said they had a fire crew fully staffed patrolling for the holiday, and that there was no loss to the forest or field.

Fire danger in the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts remains moderate, according to the Forest Service.

Cibola National Forest fire crews plan to conduct “prescribed fire projects” in Mountainair, Mount Taylor and Magdalena Ranger Districts starting as early as April 8 and pending suitable conditions, according to a Forest Service press release.

The press release says the projects are “designed to reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuels, improve riparian areas and wildlife habitat, protect communities, decrease the potential for future severe wildfire occurrence and improve forest health.”

Planned for the Mountainair Ranger District is that fire crews will continue unfinished units within the Thunderbird Ecosystem Management Project areas.

Crews will be aiming to complete 183 acres along Forest Road 422, south of Red Canyon. They are also hoping to burn approximately 405 acres within the Thunderbird area near Forest Road 275. These two blocks were previously thinned, so fire personnel will be re-entering the area to burn excess material left behind, according to the press release.

Smoke may be visible periodically for the duration of the project until the burning vegetation is out. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health and on Environmental Public Health Tracking websites.

Fire updates will be posted on the Cibola National Forest website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Cibola’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

For information on air quality and more, visit nmtracking.org/fire or inciweb.nwcg.gov.

For more information about the prescribed burns call the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990, or the Cibola National Forest at 505-346-3900.

New Tool

This week the state Forestry Division announced an interagency effort with federal, and tribal partners under the Southwest Coordinating Group to develop a map-based tool to inform the public about fire restrictions on public lands.

The new informational web tool is designed to provide the public with clear, easy-to-find fire restriction information in New Mexico and Arizona, and also links users to the agencies implementing fire restrictions for more detailed information.

In New Mexico, visit nmfireinfo.com.