Lumberton fire update May 11, 6 p.m.: 437 acres, firefighters implement guidelines to reduce spread of COVID-19

Property owner Clayton Leonard has a front-row seat to the Lumberton fire, which he was told started when a neighboring property owner was burning debris. The fire has scorched 30-40 percent of Leonard’s property, and as of 6 p.m., has burned 437 acres. Photo courtesy Clayton Leonard

Updated information as of 6 p.m., May 11: 

Acres burned: 437
Ownership(s): Private, within one-quarter mile of Jicarilla Apache Tribal Lands
Structures threatened: 6 residences
Evacuations: 2 households have been evacuated

According to the 6 p.m. update, firefighters worked today to stop the rate of spread where possible, and scouted the fire’s perimeter to develop a plan on how to keep the fire as small as possible.

The fire received 0.1 inch of rain, and with the increase in relative humidity, fire behavior was greatly moderated.

Fire managers are implementing new guidelines to separate firefighters and reduce opportunities for the spread of COVID-19.

Percent contained: 5 percent
Condition of fire: Today – active, running, backing, single tree torching
Number of engines: 5
Number of bulldozers: 1
Number of hand crews: 4
Number of water tenders:​ 2

Photo courtesy Clayton Leonard

Updated information as of 8:30 a.m., May 11: 

The Lumberton fire has grown to more than 350 acres and has been transferred to Jamie Long, incident commander of the Northern New Mexico Type 3 Incident Management Team.

The fire is currently getting some rain and exhibiting minimal fire behavior. Relative humidity is 82, with wind speeds of  0-2 mph.

The fire perimeter is still one-quarter mile from Jicarilla Reservation. This morning, crews are scouting potential containment lines.

Four residences and many outbuildings are threatened. One structure has burned, which was an outhouse. Two households have been evacuated.

Contained: 0 percent
Number of engines: 3
Number of hand crews: 2 on scene, 2 ordered
Number of water tenders:​ 2 ordered


Updated information as of 11 p.m., May 10: 

According to a fire update from Mary Stuever with the Chama Forestry District Office, mapping of the Lumberton fire by by multi mission aircraft (MMA) shows the fire at 314 acres and growing in ponderosa pine and brush on private land.

As of Sunday night, the fire was burning within one-quarter mile of Jicarilla Apache Tribal Lands, and was expected “to be there tonight.”

No structures have burned. Four structures are threatened and two households have been evacuated.

“Eight spot fires have crossed the county road. Crews have conducted a burnout to try to secure lines and are currently holding that. Winds are erratic and strong,” reads the report. “Fire behavior is still active including group torching. Type 3 Incident Management Team has arrived and will take over the fire in the morning.”

Contained: 0 percent
Number of engines: 3
Number of hand crews: 2 on scene, 2 ordered
Number of air tankers: Air activity shut down at sunset
Number of water tenders:​ 2 ordered

Previous update as of 6 p.m., May 10:

Over 100 acres have burned and evacuations have commenced for the Lumberton Fire, which started at 11:45 a.m., according to a fire update from Mary Stuever with the Chama Forestry District Office.

The fire is burning south of New Mexico Highway 64 between U.S. 84 and Lumberton, N.M. on County Road 352.

No structures have burned; however, four structures are currently threatened by the fire, which is burning in ponderosa pine and brush.

According to the the 6 p.m. fire update, “evacuation has commenced for the SW canyon area.” The Rio Arriba Fire Marshal is on scene and coordinating evacuations.

The fire had been held at a rock bluff, but with torching, it escaped the natural barrier. There are two significant spots on the opposite side of County Road 352, which was a holding line for the fire.

Engines are doing point protection at residences. Air attack reports that multiple air drops are being effective.

The fire is burning on private land, moving toward Jicarilla Apache Tribal Lands.

According to the fire update, the fire escaped from a land owner who was burning debris.

An air tanker and type 1 hand crew and type 3 incident management team are en route to the fire.

Multiple air tankers are making drops with zero containment as of 6 p.m.

This story was posted on May 11, 2020.