A federal Type 2 incident management team is pulling out of the Medio Fire and leaving the rest of its mop-up in the Santa Fe National Forest to local personnel.
The fire that began on Aug. 17 near the Rio en Medio is estimated to have burned 3,773 acres and is 90% contained. The fire's northern edge has run against the scar of the Pacheco Fire from 2011, and containments lines have been secured on its perimeter except for a portion on the western flank.
The fire is the team's fourth incident this summer, said Commander Carl Schwope, and even though it was the smallest in acreage, it took the most days to get under control.
"It's a very challenging piece of ground," Schwope said.
As the fire is now classified as less complex, the effort moves to the US Forest Service's Type 4 management team; 147 personnel were still assigned to the incident as of Thursday night's livestreamed community meeting.
Incident Commander John Armstrong, a Santa Fe-based engine boss with the service, will carry on as the leader of firefighting efforts.
"We feel confident in taking the incident over and we will have the fire staffed with the appropriate personnel for the duration—until everything is out," he said.
Española District Ranger Sandy Hurlocker said the cost of the firefighting so far is about $4 million. Thursday's work included removal of forest service equipment and near completion of suppression repair.
Operations Section Chief Buck Wickham said area residents will likely continue to see smoke as fuel within the fire perimeter is consumed, and that might last for the next week or two depending on the weather. "It should be diminishing day by day," he said.
The Santa Fe National Forest remains under Stage 1 fire restrictions, which prohibit campfires and charcoal grills outside of agency—installed fire rings or grills in developed campgrounds. Fire risk, the agency says in a press release, " is unusually high for September due to prolonged drought, unseasonably high temperatures and low humidities."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong starting date for the fire. That's been corrected.