Fire allowed to play its natural role in maintaining forest and prairie ecosystems

TRUTH OR CONSESQUENCES, NM, May 27, 2023 – The Pass Fire on the Gila National Forest, Black Range Ranger District has grown to approximately 8,261 acres over the past 10 days. The Gila Las Cruces Zone Type 3 Team, led by Incident Commander Pete Valenzuela assumed command this morning.

The fire is located south of New Mexico Highway 59, about 1 mile west of Wolf Hollow Campground, and along the northern Gila Wilderness boundary. Camping is not recommended at Wolf Hollow due to the likelihood of fire reaching the area and heavy localized firefighter activity. Fire is progressing to the south, east, and west, consuming mostly down logs, dead grass, and pine needles beneath a ponderosa pine-dominated forest canopy.

One hundred people are currently working the Pass Fire, including a large number of youths who are supporting the fire at the Incident Command Post, gaining work experience and exposure to public land management. A Job Corps kitchen crew began serving meals this morning and camp yurts are being maintained by a contracted youth crew out of California. Fire crews are cutting back grass and removing surface fuels to protect range and other infrastructure. A Helitack crew will begin cleaning up a helispot on Black Mountain in preparation for structure protection of Black Mountain Lookout.

“Responders have done some great work up to now, protecting values at risk and keeping the fire south of Highway 59, while allowing fire to play its natural role in the forest,” said Valenzuela. “The work we’re doing is helping to restore resiliency to these lands and watersheds.”

A variety of tactics will be used commensurate with public and firefighter safety, values at risk, and likelihood of success. Values at risk include small private land parcels, range fences, water pipelines and stock tanks, powerlines, recreation sites, roads, a research site, historic features, sensitive wildlife habitats, wetlands, and watershed resources. They will be protected as appropriate if fire reaches pre-identified management action points.

Firefighters are using control elements, such as roads, trails and landscape features to safely confine and contain the fire within the desired area identified by resource specialists. A large planning area allows for the Pass Fire to ultimately encompass about 75,000 acres south of Highway 59, including much of the northern Gila Wilderness east of Indian Creek, north of the Middle Fork Gila River and the Adobe Springs and White Rocks trails, and west of the East Fork Gila River and Beaver Creek.

Decisions about whether to fully suppress a naturally ignited wildfire or to manage for natural resource objectives depend on a number of factors including the ignition source, location, fuels, suppression resource availability, expected fire weather conditions, and seasonal outlook.

Weather over the fire area will be partly cloudy this morning, turning mostly sunny this afternoon, with highs from 68 to 83, depending on elevation. Relative humidity will drop to 10 to 15% this afternoon, and there’s a 10% chance of precipitation today.

Several fire scars exist around the area of the Pass Fire, which will help serve as containment features, should the fire reach them. Pass Fire ignited within the 2005 Bull Fire perimeter, which removed a large amount of ladder fuels from much of the area. The 2012 Whitewater Baldy fire scar is a few miles west of the western edge of the Pass Fire, and the more distant 2021 Johnson Fire and 2022 Black Fire scars lie to the south and east.

Please use caution when entering or passing through the area, as heavy firefighter traffic and activity may exist along area roads. Air inversions are likely to cause low-lying smoke to settle into valleys overnight that may obscure visibility for travel. Smoke-sensitive individuals should follow recommendations at NM Fire Info | Smoke Management. More information about the Pass Fire is available at Nmgnf Pass Fire Information | InciWeb ( and on New Mexico Fire Information at | Fire crews responding to Pass Fire near Indian Creek CabinNM Fire Info For more information contact Maribeth Pecotte at 575-388-8211 or

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.