Updated May 22 at 6 p.m.
Heavy smoke continues to build around Taos County as Carson National Forest crews control – and strategically expand – a wildfire that was discovered Thursday (May 18) after lightning struck a section of ponderosa pine forest 4 miles southwest of Tres Piedras.
"Since the lightning started the fire in the area of a previously prescribed burn area, we are helping it along with recycling natural nutrients on the ground," explained Clifton Russell, 36, public information officer for Carson National Forest Service. "It's a huge process we go through."
As the crews continue to work, all unauthorized personnel without proper clearances are restricted from the "Hondito Wildfire" area, located within the Tres Piedras Ranger District, which will be closed through Tuesday (May 30), according to a forest service press release.
The purpose of the temporary closure is to "ensure public safety" as controlled ignitions are performed and multiple burns are monitored by Forest Service personnel, according to the agency.
The closure area lies about 30 miles west of Taos, in a swath of Carson National Forest west southwest of Tres Piedras "from the junction of Forest Road 222/675T and Forest Road 167 to the junction of Forest Road 222/1864 to the US Highway 64 junction, approximately three miles north of the Tres Piedras Ranger District Office," a Carson National Forest press release states.
Residents with respiratory conditions are advised to take necessary precautions as the burn continues throughout the week.