FIRE STRIKES IN HIGH DESERT

Crews con­tain blaze af­ter 21 houses are evac­u­ated in San­dia foothills

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW REISEN JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

Fire crews search for hot spots af­ter a brush fire scorched sev­eral acres of a San­dia foothills neigh­bor­hood Tues­day.

Gusty canyon winds and dry grasses fu­eled a brush fire as it spread through sev­eral acres of an up­scale neigh­bor­hood in the San­dia foothills on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Al­bu­querque Fire De­part­ment Lt. Brian Fox said 21 homes in the High Desert neigh­bor­hood were evac­u­ated, but only three had ex­te­rior flame dam­age, and no­body was in­jured.

As of 4 p.m., Fox said the fire — which had burned seven acres — was 80 per­cent con­tained, with AFD hop­ing to have it fulled snuffed by night­fall. The cause of the fire is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said fire­fight­ers with the wild­land task force, the Al­bu­querque and Ber­nalillo County fire de­part­ments, among oth­ers, re­sponded to the blaze

around 1:15 p.m.

“Evac­u­at­ing the pub­lic was our first pri­or­ity,” Fox said.

At times, he said, the flames reached 30 feet high and threat­ened 10 homes, some of them sur­rounded on all sides.

Fox said crews were able to catch the fire dur­ing a lull in the wind gusts, some reach­ing 30 mph, be­fore it was able to spread far­ther through the canyon.

“This is an ex­am­ple of how dry it is,” he said.

Aside from the winds, Fox said the high tem­per­a­tures, low hu­mid­ity and dry piñon, ju­niper and sage­brush grasses make for dan­ger­ous fire con­di­tions.

“We’re ask­ing the pub­lic to please be cog­nizant of that,” he said. “If you see some­thing, say some­thing early.”

Once crews had the fire con­tained, Lisa Dar­nell stood in her aunt and un­cle’s yard hos­ing off dry grass and bushes. A swath of charred grasses ex­tended up to the road just across the street.

“It was too close for com­fort,” Dar­nell said.

Dar­nell said her rel­a­tives called af­ter they were told to leave

“I just got in the car and headed up there,” she said. “I didn’t hes­i­tate.”

When Dar­nell ar­rived, she said, only a few smol­der­ing spots re­mained, as fire crews had al­ready ar­rived and sprung into ac­tion ex­tin­guish­ing a ma­jor­ity of the blaze.

Fire crews could be seen work­ing with shov­els and hoses, find­ing and snuff­ing hot spots in the area.

Po­lice ve­hi­cles blocked the roads into the sur­round­ing ar­eas as res­i­dents waited out­side the perime­ter to go home.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

Al­bu­querque and Ber­nalillo County fire­fight­ers snuff a brush fire that burned near some homes in the San­dia foothills Tues­day af­ter­noon.

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