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Press Release - Medio Fire Update

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August 19, 2020

Medio Fire Update

Aug. 19, 2020, 7:45 p.m.

Size: 550 acres                                           Containment: 0%

Start date: Aug. 17, 2020                       Cause: Unknown         

Location: Off the Rio en Medio Trail on the Española Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) between the Rio Nambe and the Rio en Medio, approximately 1.5 miles north of the Village of Rio en Medio, 2 miles east/southeast of Nambe Reservoir and 5 miles north/northwest of the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Fuels: Dry mixed conifer tapering to ponderosa pine at lower elevations. Heavy fuels in steep, rugged terrain add complexity to efforts to control the Medio Fire. Contrary to a traditional monsoon season, fuel moistures are very low for this time of year, and other fire indices are unseasonably high.  

Fire behavior: Dry continuous fuels are helping push the fire southward toward the Rio en Medio drainage. Fire behavior has ranged from moderate to extreme, driven by terrain and winds. The fire is likely to continue pushing eastward toward the Pecos Wilderness and the burn scar from the 2011 Pacheco Fire, which raises additional concerns due to the amount of dead and down fuels in the burn scar.

Strategy: Due to the complexity of the Medio Fire and the values at risk, fire managers today ordered a Type 2 Incident Management Team which is expected to in-brief tomorrow afternoon and take command of the fire early Friday.

SFNF fire managers continue to coordinate with cooperators and partners, including the Nambe and Tesuque Pueblos, Santa Fe County and New Mexico State Forestry, to develop a containment strategy for the Medio Fire.  Due to the remote location of the fire and the rugged terrain, the strategy will be a combination of direct and indirect perimeter control and point protection. Air attack dropped water and retardant on the fire today to help firefighters establish anchor points and work on building the fire line.

Resources on scene: A Type 3 Incident Commander and about 70 personnel are assigned to the Medio Fire. Resources on scene include the Mt. Taylor Hotshots, 4 engines, a Type 3 helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft. A second hotshot crew, the Silver City Hotshots, arrived today.

Weather: Partly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the evening, then isolated showers and thunderstorms after midnight. Higher forecasted humidities and lower temperatures should help moderate fire behavior overnight. 

Values at risk: Values at risk include Nambe Reservoir, tribal inholdings and traditional cultural resources, the Village of Rio en Medio, powerlines including the Jemez Electric Coop powerline, the Rio Nambe/Rio Capulin and Rio en Medio watersheds, and trails and cultural sites on the SFNF. The Medio Fire is currently not threatening any structures, and there are no evacuations in place. 

Safety: The health and safety of firefighters and the public are always the first priority. Firefighters are conducting operations under protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

Smoke from the Medio Fire is likely to be visible from Santa Fe and surrounding communities as well as along the I-25 and US 285 corridors. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website. The Forest Stewards Guild offers a HEPA Filter Loan Program that are available on a first come/first served basis. Additional information on air filters and the HEPA loan program is posted at http://www.santafefireshed.org/hepa-filter-loan-program#smokeanchor3.

Members of the public should stay away from fire operations and staging areas, including the Rio en Medio Community Center, Nambe Reservoir, and the Rio en Medio (#163), Viejo (#179), Borrego (#150), Nambe (#160), and Capulin (#158) Trails on the SFNF. 

Drones pose a serious risk to firefighting and can cause air operations to cease. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t!” Fire managers have implemented a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) to create a safety buffer for both ground and air crews.

Fire updates will be posted on the SFNF website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Santa Fe National Forest Facebook page and Twitter @SantafeNF.

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