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Crews continue to battle Thompson Ridge Fire

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By Tris DeRoma

Residents attending Saturday afternoon’s update of the Thompson Ridge Fire also got a little show as a new plume of smoke flared up into the sky. The La Cueva Volunteer Fire Station offered a good view of the flare up, though no one thought much of it at the time.

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They are giving it a lot of thought today, though. According to Fire Information Officer Peter D’Aquanni, that new plume was the original source of a spot fire that, as of 11 a.m. today, is heading toward N.M. 4. This morning, fire officials said crews have secured a perimeter around the perimeter and N.M. 4 was reopened.

"It had a mind of it’s own at that point,” D’Aquanni said. “We dropped some (incendiary devices) ahead of it to try and slow it down, but it was so hot, it just burned right over them.”

The spot fire is near South Mountain, which is southeast of Redondo Peak.

Firefighters battled the blaze all night, and it forced firefighters to redraw their containment line for the Thompson Ridge Fire, making N.M. 4 the new line.

The latest reports available put the spot fire at 120 acres as of Saturday night.  It is currently located in the southern edge of the Thompson Ridge Fire, which was close to 20,000 acres, according to the Sunday morning update.

“It’s not huge, but it jumped our containment line, so what we have to do is pull back,” D’Aquanni said, adding that as for now, the fire is not even near N.M. 4. As a result, the N.M. 4 is closed to all unnecessary traffic for the time being because firefighters are currently digging in right now to make sure the fire does not cross N.M. 4.

State police are currently only letting people who live only a few miles from the intersection of N.M. 501 and N.M. 4 through.

Truck driver John Guerra, who was on his way to Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs, was not happy to hear the news. Though he understands it was for safety, he said the people that are managing the fire should have given them more notice.

“I think it’s not good telling us we could go through, but then they close it,” he said. “Now if it’s a question about if it’s going to be dangerous, we need to get through before the winds start,” he said. “They should escort us up through there so we don’t have to go all the way up through Albuquerque.”

Paul Johnson was also patiently waiting by the road to get through, which he eventually did.

“I live on Cochiti Mesa, so I guess the question is now how do people that live on Cochiti Mesa get in and out of there,” he said. “The Forest Service seems to be totally unaware of our community.”