Ute Park fire up­ends Col­fax com­mu­ni­ties

The Taos News - - YEAR IN PICTURES -

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

Mor­gan Timms/The Taos News

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