Sawmill Fire 3 Miles from Mountaintop Research Facilities

JULY 2, 2012, UPDATE -- The Sawmill Fire is smoldering, but is nearly all contained and does not pose an immediate threat to New Mexico Tech's research facilities atop South Baldy, which is about three miles from the fire.

The Sawmill Fire at its highest level of activity, about three miles from South Baldy, as seen from Langmuir Laboratory.  Photo by Dr. Bill Winn/New Mexico Tech
Fire personnel were mopping up Saturday, then simply observed the fire from Tech's facilities on Sunday.

Dr. Bill Winn, Director of Langmuir Laborator, said he and his staff are grateful for the efforts of the U.S. Forest Service firefighters and managers.

“My colleagues and I at Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research greatly appreciate the effective campaign by the U.S. Forest Service to contain and put out the fire, which threatened the Laboratory. We were impressed by the variety techniques used by the USFS to contain the fire in remote and difficult terrain,” he said.

Forest Road 238 is still closed to the public, but open to Forest Service personnel and those affiliated with Langmuir Lab and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory.




MAGDALENA, N.M. July 28, 2012 – The U.S. Forest Service is battling the Sawmill Fire, which is about three miles from the Magdalena Ridge observatory and the Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, both of which are atop South Baldy.


Tanker 40 dropping retardant on the Sawmill Fire – Sunday, June 24, 2012 – Photo Courtesy of the US Forest Service.



While a catastrophic fire hit Colorado Springs to the north, a relatively small contingent of firefighters were working to contain the Sawmill Fire, which had burned about 104 acres by Wednesday.

The fire was detected July 23 and is 81 percent contained. The fire is burning in extremely steep and rugged terrain. One Hot Shot crew, six engines, three helicopters, a water tanker and a camp crew are battling the blaze and protecting Tech’s installations. As of Thursday, the structures were not in imminent danger.

Minimal fire activity was observed Wednesday, with the majority of activity toward the center of the area.

The structure protection activities will help in case of future fires in the area. As of Wednesday, the Gila-Las Cruces zone turned over fire management to the local district unless conditions determine otherwise. The remaining helicopters will be available for recon flights, possible water drops if needed, or for initial attack if any new starts occur.

– NMT –

Tanker 40 dropping retardant on the Sawmill Fire – Sunday, June 24, 2012 – Photo Courtesy of the US Forest Service.