Whiskey Fire in El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico, Managed for Multiple Objectives

When lightning ignited the Whiskey fire at El Malpais National Monument on Friday, July 18, 2014, fire managers decided to manage the fire for increased ecosystem resilience and reduced fuel loads that can lessen the risk of future catastrophic wildfires. The fire helped reduce fuel loading and released nutrients that will promote a more resilient landscape, and will help fire managers control future wildfires that occur when conditions are less favorable.

Lightning Ignites Fire

A ground fire clears vegetation from the forest floor.
The Whiskey fire burned with low to moderate intensity, clearing the buildup of vegetation on the forest floor.

When lightning ignited the Whiskey fire at El Malpais National Monument on Friday, July 18, 2014, fire managers decided to manage the fire for increased ecosystem resilience and reduced fuel loads that can lessen the risk of future catastrophic wildfires.

The fire was located in a remote area of the park, about a half mile northeast of Lost Woman Crater. Vegetation in the area included mixed conifer understory. Fire managers initially monitored the fire as it progressed naturally. The fire burned at low to moderate intensity with flame lengths generally one to two feet in height and isolated single-tree torching. The fire behavior helped reduce the fuel loading in the area by consuming dead and down fuels. This will result in nutrient release that will promote a healthy, more ecologically resilient landscape. The reduced fuel load will also help fire managers control future wildfires that occur when conditions are less favorable.

Close-up picture of a creeping ground fire.
The Whiskey fire burned with low to moderate intensity, clearing the buildup of vegetation on the forest floor.

Resources assigned to the incident included two National Park Service (NPS) engines, one USDA Forest Service engine, a Nature Conservancy wildland fire module from Fort Collins, Colorado, and overhead staff from the NPS and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These firefighters helped monitor the fire, secured fire lines, and completed a burnout operation. The fire was extinguished naturally by monsoon moisture. Approximately 1,004 acres were burned by the Whiskey fire--806 acres on NPS land and 198 acres on BLM land.

Contact: Kevin Parrish, Fire Management Officer
Email:e-mail us
Phone: (505) 285-4641 ext. 35