Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires spread slowed down — 270,000 acres affected
Over the last 24 hours, spread of Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires slowed down to a relatively moderate 10,000 acres, but the speed still is too high to effectively manage and contain this record-breaking wildfire. Despite involvement of 1,832 personnel at this time the total affected area is 270,447 acres or 18 Manhattans.
Considering that the largest recorded fire in New Mexico burned over 300,000 acres, we can safely say, this one will be significantly larger. In the worst case scenario the blaze could grow to 500,000 acres and more. That's about 780 square miles.
But back to the operations.
Here's the latest map of the newly affected area by @CartoBassett:
Fire is pushing toward Angostura, and structure protection crews are working to prepare homes and values in the area. Yesterday west winds near Chacon allowed firefighters to construct more fireline around the community. The fire is following the timber fuel and could push across Highway 121 north of Chacon today.
Local firefighting resources in Colfax County are coordinating with fire leadership, and structure protection crews are in Highway 518, 121, 434, and 442 corridors up to and around Black Lake. Firefighters, heavy equipment, and helicopters continue to fight spot fires across 434. Fire could end up near Coyote State Park today.
The east side from Ledoux to Las Vegas is in patrol status. On the south, near Mineral Hills and San Geronimo, crews have been able to secure the lines and are monitoring and patrolling. Some resources have been moved from this area to other parts of the fire. Yesterday the fire crossed a piece of fireline in the southwest area around Barillas Peak.
Large Air Tankers put down retardant to help the firefighters on the ground get a line around it, but night crews had to reevaluate strategy when the diurnal winds shifted. They will continue working on it today. People in Pecos can expect to see more activity at night due to the terrain and night breezes.
There has been more activity around Elk Mountain to Gascon as the fire is trying to push upslope into the wind. Crews have been working hard in this area, protecting structures, conducting defensive firing operations, and securing the fire’s edge. The fire is still moving into the Pecos Wilderness towards Lone Pine Mesa, Blue Bell Ridge, and further north near Enchantment Lake.
A welcome intermission from the persistent windy conditions is expected Friday but exceptionally dry conditions will continue to prevail. Easterly winds around daybreak will shift to variations of south and west by late morning. Speeds will be reduced compared to previous days but will flirt with critical magnitudes in the afternoon.
Temperatures will rebound and dry air ushered in behind the system will cause minimum RH values to crater into the low single digits. Reduced winds speeds are expected to persist through the weekend alongside a warming trend and continued dry conditions.