San Miguel fire still burning

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By The Staff

The fire in the Bandelier Wilderness has grown to about 75 acres, according to information provided by the monument Tuesday night. The fire has been named the San Miguel Fire for its proximity to the San Miguel ruins located on the west side of the monument.

Rain Sunday and Monday slowed the progress of the fire, according to officials, but there was no rain on Tuesday.

“We expect this fire to burn throughout the summer,”  Bandelier’s Fire Management Officer Gary Kemp  said in an announcement. “We are working closely with the Santa Fe National Forest to manage this fire because it is so close to the Forest/Monument boundary. Varying degrees of fire growth and movement are expected as weather conditions change. The fire will be managed to prevent any threats to public safety or facilities.  If necessary, temporary closures of some backcountry trails may occur to ensure visitor safety.”

With warmer, drier weather predicted over the next few days, the fire is expected to continue to smolder and creep during the morning and overnight hours. Occasional growth and smoke plumes are possible from mid-day through early evening. Currently there are no immediate threats to cultural or natural resource values and no suppression actions are being taken on the fire.  The Monument remains 100 percent open to the public while firefighters actively monitor the fire from the ground and by aircraft. Bandelier officials said the monument has received many lightning strikes over the past several weeks, along with significant precipitation. A lightning-caused wildland fire was discovered on Thursday. In consultation with fire managers, Monument staff Superintendent Jason Lott made the decision to manage the San Miguel Fire for resource benefits. Such fires are allowed to burn and spread naturally when they don’t threaten people or property.

“Managing wildland fire in Bandelier requires land and fire managers to balance risks and benefits in an ever-changing environment,” Lott said in the press notification. “Wildland fire is an essential natural process that is important for the survival of many plants and animals in the Jemez mountains ecosystem.”Lott added,  “Visitors to the park may encounter smoky conditions during late afternoon and evening hours if localized smoke settles over some trails in the monument.”