NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After a thorough investigation by fire officials, it has been determined that the Medio Fire was caused by a lightning strike. The fire started on Aug. 17 near the Rio en Medio Trailhead on the Española Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest. The fire was contained on Sept. 14, 2020.

  • Start Date: August 17, 2020 | Final Update: September 14, 2020
  • Location: Off Rio en Medio Trail about 2 miles south/southeast of Nambe Reservoir and 5 miles north/northwest of Santa Fe Ski Basin
  • Containment: 100%
  • Size: Approximately 4,010
  • Structures Threatened: No
  • Structures Burned: No
  • Evacuations: No
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer in steep, rocky terrain

On September 10, fire crews report that the Medio Fire received substantial precipitation which minmized fire behavior and growth. No flooding has been reported. Firefighters will continue to monitor containment lines on the fire’s perimeter as drier weather is anticipated in the next few days.

On Sept. 6, the southwestern side of the Medio Fire was putting up a lot of smoke. Fire officials say aerial observation confirms that the interior pockets of fuel-burning was surrounded by black and have limited potential to spread.

On Sept. 1, fire crews continued to “mop up” along the western perimeter and patrolled areas where burnout operations were completed on Monday. “Mopping up” involves extinguishing or removing burning material near containment lines after an area has burned, according to forest officials.

On Aug. 30, fire crews worked to repair suppression handlines and build water bars to prevent erosion and slow the flow of future rains. Suppression repair also took place on the northern side of the fire. Fire crews also completed chipping operations along Forest Road 102. On Aug. 31, the road will be bladed as part of continued suppression repair efforts.

Fire officials report that after pushing into the northeast corner of the 2011 Pacheco Fire scar, the Medio Fire increased by 125 acres and is burning in dead and down timber. Firefighters are currently monitoring containment lines on the fire’s perimeter which officials say are holding.

Fire officials say smoke from the Medio Fire is likely to be visible from Santa Fe and surrounding communities as well as along the I-25 and US 285 corridors. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures.

Closures and Restrictions

The Santa Fe National Forest has issued a closure order that prohibits members of the public from entering the restricted area including all Forest Service lands, roads and trails within an area that is roughly defined by the Rio Nambe Trail #160 on the north, the Borrego Trail #150 and Forest Road 412 on the east, Forest Road 102 on the south and back up the forest boundary line on the west to meet the Rio Nambe #160.

Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in effect on the Santa Fe National Forest to reduce the risk for human-caused wildfire due to dry weather conditions. The Santa Fe County burn ban remains in effect. The Temporary Flight Restriction over the fire area will remain in place.

Medio Fire Aug. 29 Map
Medio Fire Progression Map from Aug. 29, 2020.
Medio Fire burning in Santa Fe National Forest on Tues. August 18, 2020 (Courtesy William Sandoval)