The lightning-caused Rawhide Fire on the Guadalupe Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest has been allowed to grow to 250 acres within the planned perimeter to fulfill its essential role of reducing forest fuels and improve overall ecosystem health.
Favorable conditions, including light winds and precipitation in areas adjacent to the fire, have resulted in a low-intensity fire that is moving along the forest floor. The Rawhide Fire is located near Rawhide Canyon about five miles northwest of Sitting Bull Falls and is burning in mostly grass, shrubs and some juniper trees. The blaze is expected to move northeast as terrain south of the fire is rocky with limited vegetation available to carry the fire.
Forest officials will issue a closure order for Forest Service Road 522B later today. The road is being closed to reduce the chance of traffic or pedestrian accidents while firefighters are in the area.
Allowing the wildfire to burn through this area naturally will remove fuels that could feed future severe wildfires, as well as help to restore the forest's structure to more historic conditions. While there is no planned end date for the wildfire, forest managers have established a planning area within which the fire will be allowed to move. It is unlikely the wildfire will move across the entire planning area, given weather conditions and fuel type.
Currently, there are two engines and about 20 people assigned to the fire. Additional resources, including a Wildland Fire Module, which specializes in fires like the Rawhide Fire have been ordered.
The Rawhide Fire is burning in a remote area and poses no danger to buildings or infrastructure. However, smoke is likely to become more visible over the coming days as the fire spreads within the defined planning area. As needed, fire managers plan to conduct burnout operations to strengthen control lines, which frequently causes a temporary increase in the amount of smoke produced.