UPDATE: On Wednesday, June 24, after News-Bulletin press time, the Valencia County Fire Department posted an update on Facebook indicating the fire, called the Welded Fire, was 100 percent contained.
LOS CHAVEZ — Multiple county fire districts, as well as local and state agencies responded to a late night bosque fire in Los Chavez on Monday.
Valencia County Fire Chief Brian Culp said crews were called out to the fire at about 10 p.m., Monday, June 22, and were on scene until Tuesday morning.
“When crews arrived, we found the fire was within the bosque,” Culp said. “It ended up burning less than five acres; no structures were involved.”
The fire was in the area of Camino de Los Chavez and Banco Road, east of N.M. 314 and west of the Rio Grande, about a mile south of the Allsups. The fire did not jump to the east side of the river.
“Winds were fairly calm but there were some gusts that threw it into areas with structures off of Banco. We had crews patrolling the area to check for spot fires,” Culp said.
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District assisted by bringing in a bulldozer to cut fire lines on the north and south ends of the fire, the chief said.
“That was extremely helpful,” he said. “We don’t know the cause as of yet. We’re bringing in a state forestry investigator to try to determine the cause.”
As of Tuesday morning, management of the scene had been turned over to state forestry. In addition to the state and MRGCD, the city of Santa Fe assisted by sending a hand crew to the fire.
“Valencia County crews stayed throughout the night until daylight,” the chief said. “We couldn’t enter the area because of the cottonwood trees burning, for the safety of the crews.”
The fire wasn’t freely burning as of Tuesday morning and state forestry crews were checking for and putting out hot spots.
“They have to do work on taking care of what’s called the aerial, up on the top of the trees. Cottonwoods hollow out in the center, so fire can travel up through them and starts coming out,” he said. “If it gets hot enough, it will do what they call ‘crown’ all the way to the top.”
The chief reminded residents of Valencia County that conditions were extremely dry at this time, and open burning isn’t allowed in most of the county and its municipalities.
“Just a reminder that when state forestry put out the burn ban on May 13, it also included fireworks,” he said.
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.