UPDATE 4: (8 p.m., 6/13/21) As of 6:30 p.m., Sunday, June 13, Valencia County Fire Department Assistant Chief Jaime Gonzales is reporting the Cemetery Fire is 20 percent contained and fire personnel have kept the blaze to 319 acres.

“Throughout the day, on the west side there was a lot of slop and hot spots we worked on,” Gonzales said. “On the east side, we worked the back burns and dozer lines, and held those lines like we wanted to.”

There were hot spots and flare ups within the burn area by nothing escaped, she said.

“The helicopter was working through the day. There is still a significant amount of heat (in the burned area) so people will see some smoke,” the assistant chief said. “The threat to the homes in the area has diminished. We’ll probably out here working this for a week, maybe more.”

The National Weather Service is predicting a 10 percent chance of rain tonight, but even if there is no precipitation, Gonzales said the cloud cover and lower temperatures are a huge help to firefighters on the ground.

“And I have to give a huge thank you to the community. They have been amazing, bringing us water and drinks, food and even ice cream,” Gonzales said. “We cannot thank them enough.”

If anyone would like to donate water or food to the firefighters, contact Valencia County Emergency Manager Sarah Gillen at sarah.gillen@co.valencia.nm.us.

 


UPDATE 3: (2:35 p.m., 6/13/21) VCFD Assistant Chief Jaime Gonzales is reporting the bosque fire north of Veguita – now called the Cemetery Fire – is 10 percent contained. The situation will be reevaluated at 6 p.m.

 


UPDATE 2: (12:30 p.m., 6/13/21) The bosque fire north of Veguita is still active and has burned at least 319 acres since yesterday, Saturday, June 12.

Valencia County Fire Department Assistant Chief Jaime Gonzales said shortly after noon today, Sunday, June 13, the fire is still considered zero percent contained.

“We still have homes in the threatened area but there are no evacuations in place,” Gonzales said. “Last night, we were able to do dozer lines and back burns on the northeast and northwest sides, and we hope to hold those lines.”

The objectives for Sunday the assistant chief said were, first and foremost, public safety and firefighter safety, as well as structure protection and holding the dozer lines.

“We had two helicopters for air support last night and we still have one for most of today,” she said.

At this time, N.M. 346 is closed at the river bridge in both directions, Gonzales said, and will probably be closed most of the day. The highway runs east and west between N.M. 116 and N.M. 304 north of Veguita.

The fire started yesterday north of N.M. 346 on the east side of the Rio Grande, jumped to the west side of the river and began burning north. Gonzales said winds picked up Saturday evening which made battling the fire more difficult.

“It really is a battle – we’re fighting the fire and it’s fighting us,” she said.

Last night the fire jumped to the west side of Jarales Road near Hernandez Road. So far, while homes are at risk, Gonzales said none have been lost to the blaze. Two outbuildings did burn Saturday night.

The assistant chief advised residents in the area to continue to create defensible space around their homes by removing anything that could act as fuel for a fire, such as weeds, wood piles and trash.

“That is the best way people can help us – don’t have things piled up against their house,” Gonzales said. “People should also avoid the area, if possible.”

 


UPDATE: (9:30 p.m., 6/12/21) The bosque fire is still at zero percent containment and has burned about 310 acres north from N.M. 346, which is north of Veguita.

Valencia County Fire Department Assistant Chief Jaime Gonzales said there is a large spot fire on the west side of Jarales Road near Hernandez Road, which is also moving north.

Gonzales advised anyone living in the area to be very aware of where the fire is and to move anything that can hold embers away from their house, such as weeds, woodpiles and trash.

“We thought things were calming down but the weather kicked up again,” Gonzales said shortly after 9 p.m., Saturday, June 12. “Right now though, we’re having pretty erratic fire weather.”

The National Weather Service reports winds are out of the southeast at about 14 mph.

 


A fire is burning in the bosque on both sides of the Rio Grande north of Veguita this afternoon.

Valencia County Fire Department Assistant Chief Jaime Gonzales said the fire started on the east side of the river, jumped to the west side and is moving north. About 76 acres have been burned so far, Gonzales said, and the fire is at zero percent containment.

Photo courtesy of Angela Cano
This photo was taken from N.M. 304, east of the fire currently burning in the bosque on both sides of the Rio Grande north of Veguita.

The fire is north of N.M. 346, which runs east to west from N.M. 116 to N.M. 304.

“There are some structures endangered but we don’t know the exact number. We have structure apparatus on the way,” Gonzales said.

The assistant chief said multiple departments have responded to the fire and there is a large number of apparatus already on the scene. At this time, the department isn’t calling for evacuation of the area but residents should leave if they feel the need, she said.

“People should definitely mitigate their homes at this time. Remove any fuel sources near their houses or buildings, including cotton,” Gonzales said.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.