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It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Central West Zone Incident Management Team in charge of battling the Thompson Ridge Fire. As of Tuesday morning, the wildfire has charred nearly 22,000 acres.
It all started Saturday afternoon, when a new plume of smoke started up in the central area of the fire, visible from the La Cueva Volunteer Fire Station. By Sunday, that new flare-up managed to start a spot fire in the southern section of the fire beyond the containment line. Though it was a good distance away from N.M.4, fire crews shut the road down anyway since the roadway became the staging area to fight the fire.
By 8 a.m. Monday, N.M. 4 was reopened to regular traffic.
According to Fire Information Officer Peter D’Aquanni, that new plume was the original source of a spot fire.
“It had a mind of its 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 was 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.
Crews are currently holding the fire back a mile away from N.M. 4, with the help of the New Mexico National Guard, 111th Maneuver Brigade, the 717th Brigade Support Battalion, Bravo Company and 920th Engineering company.
The guard members are providing logistical support to the firefighters.
The N.M. 4 road closure Sunday was not popular with a number of travelers.
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.
The Wednesday morning update said, “very active fire behavior was observed yesterday within the perimeter and will continue today due to atmospheric conditions. Much of the interior burning that occurred yesterday and through the night was reburn. The first time the fire moves through the forest it may burn low to the ground as a surface fire preheating and drying the crowns. Then the fire can come back through a second time and burn the crowns. This is what occurred yesterday in some areas of the interior and will most likely occur today.”