Ute Park Fire burns over 36,660 acres; Rain gives boost to containment efforts
By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
June 05, 2018, 9:36:23 AM EDT
After thunderstorms crossed the site of the Ute Park Fire in northeastern New Mexico on Sunday and aided firefighting efforts, dry weather is on tap through midweek.
The fire, which is burning about 70 miles northeast of Santa Fe, has charred over 36,660 acres and destroyed buildings on the famed Philmont Scout Ranch.
Nearly 600 fire personnel are currently battling the blaze, which was at 25 percent containment as Tuesday morning, according to Inciweb.
Rain helped to prevent the fire from another day of rapid growth on Sunday and aided containment efforts, which had previously been unsuccessful, on the fire's southern and eastern flanks.
How to prepare for wildfires so you can escape safely if a blaze approaches
El Reno 5 years later: Revisiting the fury of the largest tornado ever recorded
Record-challenging heat wave to scorch the central US this week
"Drier weather that returned Monday will hold through at least Wednesday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. "Breezes from the southwest are expected each afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday."
Sunshine and low humidity will allow the vegetation to dry out quickly once again.
Such winds could direct the smoke over other parts of northeastern New Mexico and neighboring Colorado, leading to poor air quality. Lighter winds at night may tend to confine the smoke and hazardous breathing conditions closer to the vicinity of the blaze.
The fire has rapidly grown since starting on Thursday, May 31.
As of Monday evening, the fire was still threatening over 200 residences in Ute Park, where evacuation orders were issued on Saturday night and remain in effect. The mandatory evacuation order for Cimarron, a community of 1,100 people, and surrounding areas was lifted on Monday.
Power was also restored to Ute Park on Monday evening.
Fortunately, no fatalities or injuries have been reported.
On the Philmont Scout Ranch, 14 structures were destroyed. The good news is that officials have currently deemed the area safe.
"We have gotten official word that base camp is safe and staff will be returning back to base [Sunday morning]," the ranch stated on its official website.
Philmont Scout Ranch is a destination that Boy Scouts from all across the country go to for high adventure and training. Scouts enjoy backpacking trips and a variety of other outdoor activities.
"More than 1 million Scouts, Venturers and leaders have experienced the adventure of Philmont since the first camping season in 1939," according to the ranch.
The Ute Park Fire is not the only blaze threatening lives and property across the Desert Southwest. There are six large wildfires burning across New Mexico and southwestern Colorado, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The 416 fire has forced the evacuation of 1,500 people north of Durango, Colorado.
This fire started on Friday morning and has burned over 2,400 acres as of Monday evening, Inciweb reported. Firefighters have worked to contain 10 percent of the blaze.
Similar to around the Ute Park Fire, drier weather is forecast around the sites of the other blazes into midweek.
The area has been experiencing abnormally dry weather and is currently in an exceptional drought. This is one of several factors that led to a recent decision to close Santa Fe National Forest to all recreational activities, including the discovery of over 100 unattended campfires following Memorial Day celebrations. This was despite an official ban on all campfires that has been in place since early May.
“Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care,” Forest Supervisor James Melonas said in a statement.
The cause of the Ute Park and 416 fires remains under investigation.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - June 19, 2019, 8:20:39 AM EDT
Satellite images show things are relatively quiet now, but a cluster of showers and thunderstorms is expected to grow and eventually develop into a tropical system.
Weather News - June 19, 2019, 4:30:04 AM EDT
After a brief reprieve, severe weather will quickly return to the central United States on Friday and will likely stick around through the weekend.
Weather News - June 18, 2019, 2:38:50 PM EDT
Survivors recount their terrifying close encounter with an EF2 tornado that ripped through town in the span of 10 minutes.
Weather News - June 18, 2019, 2:41:02 PM EDT
A Danish researcher's striking image isn't exactly what it seems at first glance — and scientists say scenes like this could become all too common in the future.
Weather News - June 19, 2019, 6:15:35 AM EDT
Storms that erupt over the Florida Peninsula into Wednesday evening may pack a wallop in terms of rainfall and gusty winds.
Showers, thunderstorms to dampen early days at Royal Ascot; Will dry weather return for the weekend?
Weather News - June 18, 2019, 12:00:49 PM EDT
Wet weather will be a concern for those attending the Royal Ascot on Wednesday, but some improvement is expected later this week.
Weather News - June 19, 2019, 8:32:27 AM EDT
Round after round of rain in some areas and thunderstorms in others have riddled the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic — and now a severe threat is brewing.
Weather News - June 19, 2019, 6:53:26 AM EDT
A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck off the coast of northwestern Japan late Tuesday night local time (around 9:22 a.m. EDT), the United States Geological Survey said.