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A lightning-sparked wildfire burning on the southern edge of the Jemez Mountains put up a large column of smoke Tuesday that could be seen as far away as Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
More smoke is expected today, according to a release from the Forest Service.
The fire has been burning for days, and crews have been managing the flames to clear out heavy fuels from an area east of Jemez Springs. They ignited additional areas Tuesday to direct the flames toward existing fire lines, resulting in more smoke.
The fire has charred an estimated 1,618 acres, and officials expect the smoke to persist for a few days.
The release said ire managers were very pleased with the activity on the Pino Fire yesterday. Firefighters used hand and aerial ignitions to direct the wildfire to control features, removing hazardous fuels and minimizing the threat of future high intensity wildfires.
Pioneer forest manager Aldo Leopold stated that the first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. For decades, natural fire was the part missing from forested ecosystems. Management of the Pino wildfire is a fine example of how natural fire can be used to benefit the landscape and all of its components.
Hand and aerial ignitions will be used again today to direct the wildfire over an area similar in size to yesterday’s activity. Large columns of smoke from this ignition will be visible from Jemez Springs, Jemez Pueblo, Los Alamos, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and surrounding communities yesterday.
Travel along Interstate 25, U.S. 550, and N.M. 4 may be impacted. Motorists are advised to proceed with caution when smoke limits visibility along their travel route.
New Mexico health officials warned that the smoke could affect residents in Los Alamos and the Española Valley during the late afternoon through the early morning hours.
It is also expected to flow down from the fire overnight and could reach Jemez Pueblo and possibly Bernalillo.
The New Mexico Environment Department and the U.S. Forest Service will be monitoring the air quality at multiple locations and plan to keep the public updated.
Forest Service officials ask people not to call 911.
They say unnecessary calls from the public about the smoke could crash the system and prevent actual emergency calls from reaching dispatchers.