MOUNTAINAIR, N.M. (KRQE) – Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands fire managers may continue a prescribed burn on the Mountainair Ranger District should weather conditions remain favorable. Forest Service officials report that the Thunderbird prescribed burn may continue as early as Wednesday, May 12, and last through Friday, May 14.
According to a press release from the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands, the decision to continue with the prescribed burn will depend on several factors such as resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, and weather and wind forecasts. Fire managers anticipate burning about 130 acres of the previously thinned Auroch and Ox 1 units and 131 acres of the Green Acres unit which are all within the Thunderbird Ecosystem Management Project.
The Auroch Unit is at the southeast junction of Forest Road 422/275 while the Ox 1 unit runs along Forest Road 522, northeast of the 275/422 junction. Green Acres is north of Forest Road 275 along the forest boundary and just west of Game Road.
Before making a final decision to execute a prescribed burn, fire managers consider smoke impacts to communities. The Thunderbird prescribed burn may impact surrounding communities including Game Road residents, Mountainair, Punta de Agua, Manzano, the Estancia Valley, or west Manzano communities like Rio Communities, Belen, or Los Lunas.
Forest officials explain that prescribed fires are shorter than wildfires and are conducted under weather conditions to minimize the impact of smoke on the public. Fire crews use techniques early in the day and end ignitions early in the afternoon to allow for as much ventilation possible throughout the burn.