Clean air shelter opened due to Bonita Fire smoke

Stefan Dill
June 20, 2017 11:59 AM

EL RITO, N.M. -- Forest Service officials said that Rio Arriba County will open a clean air shelter Tuesday because of continued smoke impacts from the Bonita Fire.


 The shelter will be set up at the Rural Events Center, on Highway 554 one-half mile north of its junction with Highway 84.  The shelter will be staffed by the American Red Cross and will be open 24 hours a day, starting at 7 p.m.  Beds will be provided for people who want to stay overnight.  For more information call the Rio Arriba County Emergency Management Office at 505-747-1941.  After hours, call the Española/Rio Arriba Regional Communications Center, 505-753-5555.

Officials said firefighters continued with operations on the north side of Forest Road 45 Monday, which helped reduce the intensity of the fire by robbing it of fuel.  A lower intensity fire also produces less smoke.

Crews will continue to conduct the burn out in that section and then plan to burn out off of a bulldozer-constructed fire line near the community of Cañon Plaza.

As a result of the burn outs, residents will see more smoke in Vallecitos Canyon and surrounding communities.  The highest concentrations usually occur around sunrise. If your health is affected from smoke exposure, the New Mexico Department of Health advises you relocate to an area with clean air or to keep windows closed.

Officials said the Bonita Fire is at 6,406 acres and now 50 percent contained, but more hot and dry weather is ahead with the possibility of gusty winds from scattered thunderstorms.  The storms are not projected to produce much rain but could  produce lightning and strong, erratic winds.The lightning can start new fires and the winds can cause rapid growth on the existing fire.

Information regarding air quality and health protection is at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website:

Click here for a Facebook video update for June 20th with Operations Section Chief Trainee Shiloh Norton :


Stefan Dill

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