A 40,000 column of smoke rises from the Pacheco fire near Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico. (photo: Brent Wachter)

Blaze Still Threatens Ski Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM - As the Las Conchas fire swells out of control and threatens Pajarito ski area near Los Alamos, N.M., the Pacheco fire above Santa Fe, burning since June 18, is still perilously close to the facilities at Ski Santa Fe.

A 40,000-foot column of smoke rises from the Pacheco fire near Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico. (photo: Brent Wachter)

A 40,000-foot column of smoke rises from the Pacheco fire near Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico. (photo: Brent Wachter)

Now at 10,000 acres charred and only 15 percent contained, efforts to control the Pacheco Fire has been aided in recent days by slightly higher humidity levels and slightly lower temperatures, enabling crews to gain a better foothold on the blaze’s southeastern and western flanks. Today’s risk of thunderstorms, however, may bring erratic winds and dry lightning that could negate these efforts.

The fire is burning just north of the ski area, with the blaze’s southern perimeter less than a mile from Ski Santa Fe’s base area. The Santa Fe watershed, Santa Fe ski area, Nambe Pueblo lands, Tesuque Pueblo lands and Tesuque Peak communications site remained threatened, according to incident commanders. No evacuations are in effect at this time within Pacheco Canyon.

The Pacheco fire perimeter on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 superimposed upon satellite imagery. The slopes of Ski Santa Fe are visible at the bottom of the image. (image: Google Earth)

The Pacheco fire perimeter on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 superimposed upon satellite imagery. The slopes of Ski Santa Fe are visible at the bottom of the image. (image: Google Earth)

Today, firefighters on the southern and western perimeter of the fire will continue to hold and improve existing line, construct direct line to Rio Nambe and conduct firing operations as needed. Direct line construction will start from Rancho Viejo and proceed northeast along the northern perimeter of the fire. Crews will be flown into the Rio Frijoles drainage and will construct direct line on the northern perimeter proceeding southwest to meet up with the line construction coming from Rancho Viejo. On the southern portion of the fire direct hand line will continue from the wilderness boundary toward the northeast. A total of 699 personnel are battling the blaze, including crews manning nine helicopters.

The road leading from town to the ski area, New Mexico Route 475, which is also known as Hyde Park Road, and Artist Road are closed at mile post 9  at the Forest boundary. Forest Service Road 102 to Pacheco Road also remains closed.

The cause of the Pacheco fire is still under investigation.

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