Crews use blaze in Jemez Mountains to clear out dead brush, producing more bothersome smoke



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JEMEZ SPRINGS, New Mexico — A lightning-sparked wildfire burning on the southern edge of the Jemez Mountains put up a large column of smoke Tuesday that could be seen as far away as Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The fire has been burning for days, and crews have been managing the flames to clear out heavy fuels from an area east of Jemez Springs. They ignited additional areas Tuesday to direct the flames toward existing fire lines, resulting in more smoke.

The fire has charred an estimated 164 acres, and officials expect the smoke to persist for a few days.

New Mexico health officials warned that the smoke could affect residents in Los Alamos and the Espanola Valley during the late afternoon through the early morning hours. It is also expected to flow down from the fire overnight and could reach Jemez Pueblo and possibly Bernalillo.

The New Mexico Environment Department and the U.S. Forest Service will be monitoring the air quality at multiple locations and plan to keep the public updated.

Forest Service officials ask people not to call 911. They say unnecessary calls from the public about the smoke could crash the system and prevent actual emergency calls from reaching dispatchers.

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