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Venado Fire grows to 2,200 acres; archaeological sites in area at risk

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Monday’s rainfall did not have a significant impact on the Venado Fire that has doubled again, reaching 2,200 acres Tuesday.

“Scattered thunderstorms Monday night dropped less than a tenth of an inch on the Venado Fire, with no significant impact on ground conditions,” said Forest Service officials in a news release Tuesday morning.

Tuesday’s forecast called for scattered showers and thunderstorms, with lightning and gusty winds. The lightning-caused fire that started Friday was burning in a remote location on the mesa and in an adjacent drainage area, one mile and a half north of Deer Creek Landing, and nearly a mile east of Joaquin Mesa.

Forest Service officials are concerned about the “numerous archaeological and cultural heritage sites, Jemez Pueblo Trust lands and critical habitat for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and the Mexican spotted owl” at risk in the area, according to a release sent out Tuesday.

Resources on the fire Tuesday were 162 personnel, including four interagency hotshot crews, along with one type 3 helicopter, three engines, one dozer and a rapid extraction module. A Type 2 incident command team was expected to take command of the Venado Fire Tuesday at 4 p.m., according to the Forest Service.

The fire is in steep terrain with limited access on Mesa Venado and an adjacent drainage area 1.5 miles north of Deer Creek Landing and 6.5 miles west of Jemez Springs.

Fire crews were expected to continue a full-suppression fire fighting strategy aimed at holding the Venado Fire inside a box bounded by Forest Road (FR) 376 on the east, FR 652 on the west, FR 488 on the north and the Peggy Fire burn scar on the south, officials said.

Roads in the Venado Fire area will be closed to support fire operations as crews continue to prepare FR 376 for burnout operations and scout areas west and southwest of the fire to identify the best contingency lines.

“Fire managers are concerned about holding the northern boundary because of its proximity to a previously thinned unit where fuels have been piled,” Forest Service officials said in a release.

Because of the location and elevation, smoke from the Venado Fire should be visible from all directions coming into the Jemez Mountains area. Smoke is expected to linger in neighboring communities including San Ysidro, NM 550, Gilman, Jemez Pueblo and areas near NM State Route 4.

Smoke may be visible from I-25, Jemez Springs, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.