Updated Thursday (July 19) at 4 p.m.: The fire is approximately 7 acres. Firefighters won't be on the ground because the terrain is too steep and dangerous for personnel but the Forest Service is monitoring the blaze by aircraft.
A fresh plume of smoke in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Taos Wednesday (July 18) sent a shiver through fire-skittish county residents who scrambled to find out what was happening.
Fire officials say the smoke is coming from the days-old Lobo Fire burning in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness and possibly hitting wet wood or a fresh patch of green vegetation. "It is not a threat to communities," said Chris Coté, chief of the Latir Volunteer Fire Department. "The Forest Service is monitoring."
Wednesday afternoon, some San Cristobal residents posted on Facebook that they could see flames from their homes. The fire was burning a couple of miles away, according to fire officials.
Coté said the Forest Service flew over the fire Wednesday and Thursday and will be monitored by aircraft in the coming days. Firefighters won't be on the ground because of the dangerous terrain. "There are no adequate escape routes or safety zones in the area of the fire that would allow for firefighters to safety retreat from the fire if needed," wrote a Forest Service spokesperson in a Thursday (July 19) update.
The fire was caused by lightning and first reported on July 13.
Recent rains, increased humidity and cooler night time temperatures have helped reduce fire risks in the region, said Coté, who also coordinates wildland fire crews for Taos County. "It has significantly improved our situation," he said, as he prepared to head up to the Lobo Fire, which was still less than an acre in size.
He said federal, state and local fire risk levels were reduced for the area from high to normal.
The fire is expected to keep sending out smoke for the next few days, according to a Wednesday evening press release about the Lobo Fire.
The humidity in Taos is about 13 percent, according to the National Weather Service. The humidity is much lower than in previous days and more conducive to fire activity.