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Contact: Brittney Van Der Werff, 575-829-4821
Jemez Springs, NM - A new wildland fire is burning in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Big Hat fire, discovered after last week's thunderstorms, is estimated to be approximately two acres in size. It is located on Banco Bonito, east of the staging area in the southwestern portion of the preserve. The fire, caused by lightning, is currently creeping through pine needles and surface fuels, occasionally flaring up in jackpots of dead and downed wood; the entire fire area is in a portion of the preserve's forest that had been thinned over the last two years, and was scheduled for burning this autumn. As such, removing forest-floor fuels and improving wildlife habitat, while conserving the cultural resources in the area.
There are currently no closures or impacts to recreation due to the fire. It is not threatening any structures and will be monitored by fire managers who may use a full range of actions such as conducting hand or aerial ignitions, to delay, direct, or minimize the spread of fire in one or more areas if necessary.
The current weather forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms each day of the week, and the fire activity will change day to day. On drier days, an increase in smoke and fire behavior may be noticed. On days with more clouds and moisture there may be little or no smoke or fire growth. However, smoke may be a health concern for children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those suffering from allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, or other heart or lung diseases. To reduce exposure to smoke, stay indoors with windows, doors, and vents closed. Avoid or limit physical activities outdoors. Information on health impacts from smoke can be found by calling the New Mexico Department of Health at 1-888-878-8992, or visiting: https://nmtracking.org/fire.