Firefighters increase containment; Cause under investigation
Daily Update 5/22/2022
Acres: 130,224 acres
Location: 31 miles NW of Truth or Consequences
Start Date: Friday, May 13, 2022
Cause: Human caused, under investigation
Fuels: Timber and tall grass
Structures Lost: 2
Overview: The Black Fire is human caused and law enforcement is Investigating. Firefighting resources have been working to suppress this fire since it was discovered, and are building fireline to contain the Black Fire as efficiently and effectively as possible, while providing for both firefighter and public safety.
Fire Update: The Black Fire showed active fire behavior on Saturday, with increased activity where fuels and topography aligned. The north and northeast flanks were active earlier in the day across pine stands while higher relative humidity helped slow the fire spread in the east and southeast flanks. On the south end, fire backed into Black Canyon throughout the day and into last night, with upslope/up drainage pushes. Crews worked on Forest Road 150 to the south as well as Titanic Road to the north. Structural assessments continued and firefighters cut additional handline, providing point protection for infrastructure and other values at risk. Crews also secured containment lines, monitoring fire behavior and mopping up, where firelines are secure. Fire moved across Black Canyon so aerial firing operations were used to protect pine stands in the area.
Today, active fire behavior will continue across the Black Fire. Crews will conduct structural assessments, taking point protection actions across the fire area. Firefighters will revisit check lines/roads – temporary fireline constructed at right angles to the main control line that are used to hold fire in check as a means of regulating the heat or intensity of the firing operations to identify opportunities to build out additional containment lines.
Fire is expected to continue to move north/northeast through pine, grass, and brush fuels and east/southeast through drainage bottoms when fuels and terrain align. The area within and surrounding the Black Fire is rugged and the drainages and terrain continue to pose challenges for firefighters. Firefighters are working day and night to contain the fire with a variety of tactics including hand crews, aerial ignitions, and aerial resources dropping water and retardant, where effective and safe to do so. Firefighters engage in active and extreme fire behavior conditions by giving themselves space and time to build containment lines further from the flaming front and ahead of the longest spotting distances. In doing so, there is unburned fuel between the main fire edge and the designated “indirect” containment line. This space gives firefighters a safer opportunity to complete containment lines and initiate tactical firing operations to reinforce those lines by building an already burnt path that, in essence, builds a wider containment line and robs the main fire front from progressing.
Evacuations: In coordination with Grant, Catron, and Sierra counties, the following areas are under evacuation status as of 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 21:
GO – Area 2: New: A portion of Area 1 is now in go, including Taylor Ranch and Alexander Peak. The line extends north along the Titanic Road, then east approximately eight miles before heading southeast, tying back into Area 2. The rest of Area 2 remains in Go. The rest of Area 1 remains in Set, and encompasses parts of Catron and Sierra Counties, including Beaverhead and Poverty Creek.
GO – Area 6: Change: Area 6 east of Forest Road 150 is now in Go. The area west of Forest Road 150 remains in set. This area is in Grant County.
GO – Area 4: No Change: Areas in Sierra County, including Hermosa and Mud Spring Mountain.
GO – Area 5: No Change: Areas in Grant County, including 150 corridor 1.5 south of Tom Moore Trailhead.
SET: Area 7: Change: Area 7 east of Forest Road 150 is now in Set and includes the Continental Divide Scenic Trail. The area west of Forest Road 150 remains in Ready, including the Rocky Canyon Campground.
SET – Area 3: No Change: Areas in Sierra County, including Winston and Chloride.
READY – Area 8: New: Area beginning at the south end of Area 7, four miles south, then east approximately 27 miles. The area now includes Victorio Park Mountain, Flagpole Mountain, and Pack Trail. Several areas have been evacuated or are in evacuation readiness.
The sheriffs of Grant, Catron, and Sierra counties are using the Ready, Set, Go program to notify residents of evacuation status. For detailed information on Ready, Set, Go! New Mexico, visit
Weather: A large trough of low pressure will remain over the fire area through Wednesday. This will continue to bring cooler temperatures and light southwest to westerly winds at 10-15mph and gusts up to 25mph.
Road Closures: Highway 59, is closed from the 59/52 intersections west to the 59/150 intersection, as well as portions of Forest Road 150 (aka North Star Mesa Road or Wall Lake Road) to the public. I-25 and other state highways remain open.
Smoke: Southwest winds will push smoke to the northeast. Also, smoke impacts from the Bear Trap Fire will cause Magdalena and Socorro to see average periods of moderate air quality with possible times of unhealthy for sensitive groups (USG). Areas south of the Bear Fire we will see good air quality for most of the day. Winds out of the southwest 12-17 mph gusts 25 mph. Visit https://outlooks.wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlook/63a6f2d8? for additional information.
Aviation Restrictions: Airtankers, helicopters, and water scoopers are assisting firefighters’ suppression efforts. There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the Black Fire to allow official aviation resources to operate safely.
Fire Restrictions: The Gila National Forest entered Stage 2 Fire Restrictions at 8 a.m., Thursday, May 19, 2022. Visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/gila/alerts-notices/?aid=73002. The New Mexico State Forester has implemented statewide fire restrictions. Information is available at https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/sfd/findcurrent-fire-restrictions/.
New Mexico Fire information: https://nmfireinfo.com/
Phone Lines: Public: 575-249-1264; Media: 575-249-1294; Hours: 8 am – 8 pm