Wildfires in New Mexico have put at least one planned ARRL Field Day siteoff limits for the June 25-26 weekend. Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Jay Miller, W5WHN, said the Albuquerque DX Association W5UR group will have to relocate its Field Day site away from the Cedro Peak picnic area, now closed due to the Dog Head Fire. Miller said that if the Battleship Fire had not been contained, access to the W5WHN Field Day site in the mountains would have been threatened. New Mexico SM Ed James, KA8JMW, will operate Field Day from the New Mexico State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Santa Fe, using the call sign NM5EM.
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers in New Mexico late last week responded to the Dog Head fire, which is affecting Torrance and Bernalillo counties, and that activation continues. Evacuations were ordered in both counties, and Miller said ARES is supporting EOCs in both counties as well as relocation centers. The Dog Head fire encompasses nearly 18,000 acres and is nearly 50 percent contained. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Dog Head Fire has claimed 2 dozen homes and nearly an equal number of “other minor structures,” fire officials said.
“Improved weather conditions combined with significant work on the ground has resulted in a major increase in containment,” a June 21 update said. “Firefighters aggressively extinguished hot spots from the ground and air, allowing containment to increase from 9 percent to 46 percent in the northeast corner, much of the southeast side, the southwest corner, and most of the southern flank.”
The Capilla Peak 146.96 repeater and the Tapia Mesa 147.06 repeater have been the primary emergency communication channels for the Dog Head Fire, located some 6 miles northwest of Tajique. Mader has estimated that VHF/UHF repeater coverage would likely meet all ARES communication needs.
Evacuation centers have been established in Estancia, at the Torrance County Fairgrounds (for residents, pets, and livestock), and in Tijeras at the Los Vecinos Community Center for evacuees. — Thanks to Jay Miller, W5WHN, for some information