TAOS N.M. (KRQE) - A wildfire in the forested Sipapu area of northern New Mexico continues to rage Thursday morning.
The Osha Fire is burning about five miles outside of the ski resort town, which is about 20 miles southeast of Taos.
As of 8:30 a.m. the fire had grown to an estimated 1,200 acres and is still zero percent contained.
Six helicopters have been making water drops on the blaze as of 9 a.m. and five fixed wing heavy air tankers are en route from Albuquerque.
A larger team will be brought in later Thursday around 6 p.m. to coordinate efforts in fighting the fire which officials say was caused by a downed power line.
A Buddhist monastery in Vadito was evacuated forcing 32 people to leave, and New Mexico State Forestry reports no other evacuations are in place Thursday morning. One person is reported to have spent the night at an evacuation center set up in the Peñasco Community Center.
Some homes and structures are threatened, and winds are expected to increase during the day to 16-21 mph with gusts to 30 mph by afternoon.
"It's like watching my backyard burn," Seth Romero said. "It's sad, it really is, but it's just nature I guess."
Officials say the fire was caused by a downed power line Wednesday afternoon.
No other evacuations are in place yet, but residents say they knew it was only a matter of time before a wildfire broke out.
"it was sort of in the cards this forest would burn one of these days if they didn't clear the brush, the underbrush, and do stuff like that," Ruth Anne Hickey said.
About 250 firefighters responded to the blaze initially and containment efforts will start up again Thursday.
And lightning sparked a couple of other fires in southern and eastern parts of the state.
Seven of them were burning in Chaves and Lea County and we mostly contained including:
- Riverside Fire, 12 miles northeast of Hondo, about 800 acres, no structures threatened.
- Brown Road Fire, northeast of Roswell, more than 950 acres, no structures threatened.
News 13 viewer Porfy Martinez submitted pictures of a lightning- caused blaze near San Jon in eastern New Mexico.
Crews are responding to a wildfire burning on the Carson National Forest which has forced evacuations of a northern New Mexico monastery and the Sipapu ski area.
The "Osha Fire" is located on both sides of U.S. Highway 518 at mile marker 55 near the Rock Wall.
- Total Size: approximately 1000 acres
- Percent Contained: 0%
- Evacuations: Yes, Penasco Community Center (575) 587-1728
- Closures: Highway 518 north and south bound, 17.2 miles North of Mora at mile marker 37
- Structures Threatened: Sipapu and some structures west of Hwy 518
- Cause: downed power line in the area of highway 518
- Start: June 1, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Residents near the Sipapu Ski area and the community of Sipapu have been asked to evacuate at this time. Further evacuations are possible. An evacuation center has been set up at Penasco Community Center (575) 587-1728.
According to Dorotea Martinez of the Carson National Forest Service supervisor's office about 200 firefighters are on the scene and a Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered to take command of the fire in the morning. A command post is being set up at the Rock Wall where 518 and 76 meet.
About 35 residents were taking shelter Wednesday evening at the evacuation center in the Penasco Community Center. The fire is about 30 miles from Taos.
Several local volunteer fire departments are on scene to assist with structure protection and firefighters will use direct attack strategies through the night as conditions permit.
Winds in the area are sustained at 25 miles per hour and smoke will be visible from the surrounding communities.
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