With New Mexico’s Dog Head Fire nearly two-thirds contained, all evacuation orders and advisories for Bernalillo and Torrance counties lifted, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) activation for the fire emergency is drawing to a close. Evacuees now are being allowed to re-enter the affected area in small groups with law enforcement oversight. ARRL New Mexico Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Jay Miller, W5WHN, reports that ARES’ mission has now switched from response to recovery. The nearly 18,000-acre fire destroyed 24 homes and 21 other “minor structures,” fire officials said. The fire is said to be human caused, but an investigation remains under way.
“Field Day is a go for W5WHN and the State EOC [Emergency Operations Center], NM5EM,” Miller said. “We will have company this year at the W5WHN Field Day site — the US Forest Service Fire Suppression teams for the Battleship Fire at the helipad near Fenton Lake in the Jemez Mountains.”
Miller said winds and humidity have been cooperating with the effort to stanch the flames, and the National Weather Service in Albuquerque is forecasting rain in the next few days. On the other hand, according to the latest Dog Head Fire update, “there is a chance of dry thunderstorms today and tomorrow, which has the potential for lightning and outflow winds, which may increase fire activity.”
Miller said he anticipated deactivation of the ARES teams “in the next few days.” He credited New Mexico SEC Bill Mader, K8TE — whose Field Day site was put off limits by the fire — with doing “a stellar job in running the operation and stepping into the breach when needed.”
Torrance County DEC Darryl Clutter, NX5W, has been scheduling and essentially running the Torrance County ARES operation, Miller noted, and Bernalillo County EC Stanton Royce,W5CO, has been overseeing the ARES operation in that county while also working full time at his day job.