Firefighters have linked hand-dug fire lines along the western edge of the Medio Fire in what the operations section chief called a "tremendous amount of effort" in the last day.
Operations Section Chief Buck Wickham said in an online community update Tuesday that helicopters would work overnight to ignite a ridge along the new fire line to help lower the intensity and control the spread. It's the fifth day that the federal Type 2 team has been overseeing firefighting efforts.
The fire, which began on Aug. 17, is estimated at 21% containment and has burned at least 2,845 acres as of a Wednesday morning update. See an interactive map here.
"Today there was a tremendous amount of effort—real steep country and heavy timber—but the hot shots did tie the line together. Now, we, in effect, have a line on the western edge of the fire, so that was a great accomplishment," said Wickham on Tuesday night. He also noted the plan to keep the southern edge of the fire above Forest Road 102 is holding. On the northeast side, the firefighting strategy remains to continue "herding" the fire into the scar of the Pacheco Fire from 2011.
SFR asked how many days might pass before firefighters get the perimeter containment figure past 50%.
"I'd say in four to five days we'll start to see that containment probably exceed 50%, but fire is a dynamic thing and it has made a liar out of me many times before," Wickham replied.
Thunderstorms, which create high winds, have buffeted the firefighters from every direction every day, he notes, and more storms are predicted each afternoon this season.
The team has requested nightly infrared flights that come out of Boise, Idaho, but officials are unsure if it will be scheduled soon due to resource competition among lots of wildfires burning in the West.
A smoke resources advisor said smoke will be heaviest between midnight and 9 am. More smoke information is available on this map.
Meanwhile, crews reported containment of 10% on the Caja Fire burning in the Santa Fe National Forest west of the city. Fire managers who estimated it has burned about 600 acres say much of the fire's footprint is smoldering as a result of rain Monday. Santa Fe National Forest spokeswoman Julie Anne Overton said that fire is burning in piñon juniper and is not as complex as the Medio Fire, which is burning among ponderosa and mixed conifer at a higher elevation.
A bulldozer is "punching line" on the east side of the fire to help protect a power line.
The Medio Fire has also disrupted electricity. A power line that belongs to the Jemez Electrical Cooperative bisects the northern portion of the burned area. Santa Fe Ski area is without power and the communications towers near the summit are running on generators, Wickham said Monday.
The Forest Service enters Stage 1 fire restrictions Wednesday morning, which means fires, campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided for use.
Forest Service lands, roads and trails are closed within an area that is roughly defined by the Rio Nambe Trail #160 on the north, the Borrego Trail #150 and Forest Road 412 on the east, Forest Road 102 on the south and back up the forest boundary line on the west to meet the Rio Nambe Trail #160.