Blazes in Colorado closed the 1.8-million-acre San Juan National Forest this week. The 416 Fire is burning on 25,900 acres and is 15 percent contained, according to a June 13 Facebook post. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the 1.6-million-acre Santa Fe National Forest was closed “due to extreme fire danger.” NPR quoted San Juan National Forest Fire Staff Officer Richard Bustamante as saying fire risks are at “historic levels.”
The San Juan National Forest spans across nine counties, and the last full closure was in 2002. The forest order, signed by forest supervisor Kara Chadwick, says the purpose “is to protect natural resources and public safety due to the impacts of the wildland fire.”
Bustamante said, “Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property.”
The residents of more than 2,000 homes were told to evacuate; a June 12 night update said the evacuation order for San Juan County residents would lift this morning, although people would require Rapid Tag resident credentials to return. At the time of writing, no structures have been destroyed, and 1,029 people are working the fire.
The Burro Fire is also burning in the San Juan National Forest on 2,684 acres (as of last night) and is zero percent contained. The cause for both fires is under investigation.
In New Mexico, some districts of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands will be closed effective Friday. “The Cibola is a high-use forest, so this is not a decision that we made lightly,” said Fire Staff Officer Matt Rau. “The forest is tinder dry and the monsoons may still be a few weeks out. We need to take every action possible to reduce the risk of human-caused fires.”
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