Early monsoon rainfall sets records on the Black Fire
June 24, 2022 Daily Update
Acres: 325,133 acres
Total Personnel: 548
Cause: Human-caused, under investigation
Start Date: Friday, May 13, 2022
Location: 31 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, NM
Fuels: Timber and tall grass
Highlights: Near record to record rainfall has occurred across the southern portions of the Black Fire, slowing firefighter repair efforts. According to the National Weather Service in El Paso, the previous record for the highest 3-day total in the month of June was 3.08 inches at reporting sites around the Black Range. Since June 16, total rainfall at observation locations around the Black Fire was approximately 4.59 inches in Emory Pass, 3.67 inches in Kingston, and 3.94 inches in Percha.
The Black Fire Emergency Closure remains in effect on National Forest System lands around the Black Fire area. Additional information is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/gila/alerts-notices/?aid=73435.
New Mexico Highway 152 is now open from milepost 40 (Kingston) to milepost 15 (San Lorenzo). Please continue to use caution in the area and be mindful of increased fire traffic.
Operations: Despite the wet conditions, firefighters were able to remove hose, sprinklers, and miscellaneous equipment from the South Fork Lodge. Due to the high amount of rain received on the east side of the fire, firefighters used a helicopter to retrieve multiple "sling loads" of supplies carried in a large net attached to the helicopter by a lead line and swivel. Muddy conditions are limiting dozer repair efforts, leaving about six miles of chipping left to finish. Firefighters had to pause dozer line repairs near Emory Pass due to the oncoming thunderstorms. An additional dozer has been staged at the Kingston Work Center to begin repairs of an old road that was temporarily reopened for firefighting operations. All other equipment has been pulled out of the Kingston Work Center and the community of Kingston. The fire line that was constructed around the Forest Service cabin remains secure, and Water Canyon is no longer showing signs of fire activity. Firefighters have made progress using an excavator to repair dozer line near the BloodGood Place. On the north end of the fire, the last remaining segment of dozer line repair was completed with only a small amount of cleanup left at this location. Firefighters are responding to a single burning tree that was stuck by lightning south of Highway 152, although it is not likely to spread given the damp conditions.
Weather: With the monsoon moisture in place, there is a chance of scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms from the late morning hours through the mid evening hours. The stronger thunderstorms will be capable of heavy rainfall. Temperatures will remain nearly steady through Monday with the humidity levels gradually lowering into early next week.
Evacuations: All evacuations and evacuation preparedness levels have been lifted for communities in Sierra, Grant, and Catron Counties. The real-time, interactive evacuation map has been revised to reflect this change.
Closures: The Black Fire Emergency Closure remains in effect on National Forest System lands around the Black Fire area. Additional information is available on the Gila National Forest website. Highway 152 remains open from milepost 40 (Kingston) to milepost 15 (San Lorenzo). Please continue to use caution in the area and be mindful of increased fire traffic.
Restrictions: The Gila National Forest has lifted all fire restrictions as of 8:00 AM today. The decision to lift Stage II restrictions was based on several factors, including a favorable monsoonal weather forecast, lesser occurrence of human caused wildfires, and adequate firefighting staffing. The public can obtain current state and federal fire restriction information across New Mexico at NMFire Info | Fire Restrictions or NM Forestry Division state-wide fire restrictions.
Safety: The health and safety of firefighters and the public is always the top priority. Members of the public should stay away from Black Fire operations. A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the Black Fire area, which includes unmanned aircraft, or drones. More information on the dangers drones pose to wildland firefighting aircraft and personnel on the ground can be found at: https://uas.nifc.gov/.
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