Ute Park fire upends Colfax communities
It took no time for a wildfire in Colfax County to balloon into the big one people had feared all spring. Northern New Mexico was in a drought worse than nearly anywhere else in the nation. Fire weather was critically dry on May 31. Between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., the fire grew from 150 acres to more than 5,000 acres. It would eventually be contained in mid-June, topping at about 38,000 acres. In the weeks in between, the communities of Ute Park and Cimarron were forced to evacuate as was the Philmont Scouts Ranch. Robert Martinez, of Denver, photographed the blanket of smoke as it loomed over Cimarron, where he grew up and his mother still lives, June 1 on a stretch of State Road 58.
A helicopter is silhouetted against billowing smoke from the Ute Park Fire as it flies back to refill its water supply May 31. The helicopter was seen from the intersection of Hummingbird Lane and US 64 in Ute Park. The wildland fire burned through 38,000 acres of grass and ponderosa pine on private and state land in Ute Park east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents of Ute Park, Cimarron and the historic Philmont Scout Ranch in the midst of the fire.
Morgan Timms/The Taos News