SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Ski Santa Fe could find itself in the path of a wildfire that’s already ravaged 2,800 acres. Now, preparations are underway to keep the area safe. Managers at Ski Santa Fe say they create a yearly fire plan but they usually don’t have to use it.
“For a long time now, we’ve had a fire plan,” said Josh Faber, mountain manager of Ski Santa Fe. “Typically after every ski season, we’ll go in and look at our fire plan and just make sure that in case something happens, we’re prepared.”
Last week, the Medio Fire broke out in the Santa Fe National Forest. When he heard the news, Faber thought it was a good time to have a talk with his team.
“It probably wasn’t 40 minutes later, the plume of smoke had grown pretty large in the sky that day,” said Faber. “We were pulling snow guns out and putting them in place.”
Snow guns use water and pressurized air to mimic natural snowfall during ski season. Staff realized the guns could saturate the trees and ground around the resort with water, making it harder for flames to survive.
“Fires are fires and they’re dynamic,” said Faber. “The weather can change in a heartbeat and fire can change in a heartbeat.”
Faber says the guns pump close to a thousand gallons each minute. Many are place around the resort, giving 360-degree protection.
“The snow guns, it uses electricity, there’s a big fan motor that helps blow the water out and then there’s a lot of water pressure,” said Faber. “Our goal is just to protect all of our buildings, our chairlifts, our important infrastructure, as in generators.”
Faber says crews are doing back-burning nearby to protect buildings and wildlife. However, he’s still prepared for the worst case scenario, should conditions change.
“We communicate with the forest service and the firefighters every morning. The forest service actually sends us updates and emails throughout the day,” said Faber. “We’d get a couple guys up here and we’d probably start spraying water a half a day ahead of time, a day ahead of time, just to get everything wet.”
As of Thursday morning, the Medio Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest is 21-percent contained. It has burned just over 2,800 acres.