Smoke rises from the Medio Fire that started Monday. The cause is unknown at this time. Photo by George Toya
The Medio Fire east/southeast of Nambe Reservoir has burned more than 150 acres as of Tuesday evening. Photo by George Toya
Smoke billows from the Medio Fire five miles north/northwest of the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Photo by George Toya
The Medio Fire that started Monday has burned some 150+ acres off the Rio en Medio Trail on the Española Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), some two miles north of the Village of Rio en Medio, two miles east/southeast of Nambe Reservoir and five miles north/northwest of the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
The Medio Fire is burning in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer in steep, rocky terrain. Fire behavior ranged from moderate to extreme today. A storm cell that moved into the area helped push the fire uphill, but scattered showers and higher relative humidity moderated the growth once the fire reached the ridgetop. The Medio Fire is moving eastward toward the Pecos Wilderness and is likely to hit the burn scar from the 2011 Pacheco Fire.
Weather is partly cloudy Tuesday evening with scattered showers and thunderstorms and winds out of the south at 5-15 mph shifting to 10-20 mph winds out of the west after midnight.
Resources on scene include the Mount Taylor Interagency Hotshots, firefighters from the Española Ranger District, Northern Pueblos Agency and Tesuque Pueblo. A Type 3 helicopter is available for aerial suppression. A Type 3 incident commander is en route.
The Medio Fire is within a few miles of Nambe and Tesuque Pueblos as well as small communities in the area, including Chupadero and Rio en Medio, but is moving eastward away from the values at risk. The Medio Fire is not threatening any structures, and there are no evacuations in place. Immediate values at risk include the Rio en Medio, Borrego, Aspen Basin and Aspen Ranch trails.
The strategy for the Medio Fire is full suppression. The helicopter was able to start bucket drops this afternoon before it was grounded because of lightning in the area. Fire managers are developing a containment strategy based on the remote location of the fire and the difficulty of the terrain.
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 is very visible within a 50-mile radius of the Medio Fire. Smoke is likely to settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight across the same area. 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, Rio en Medio Trailhead and Nambe Reservoir.
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.