ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The ground and air crews attacking the wildfire creeping up the west face of the Sandia Mountains expanded Saturday as more firefighters and a second helicopter joined the fight.
By later afternoon there were about 40 personnel assigned to the blaze with the two helicopters making water drops.
The Chimney Fire, named for its start in Chimney Canyon, grew slightly overnight and early Saturday was estimated to cover 4-6 acres. By late afternoon the estimate was 20 acres of steep, rugged terrain below the antenna farm on Sandia Crest.
The cause of the fire is under investigation although initial suspicion suggests an unattended campfire may be to blame.
"We're pretty sure it was human-caused," Nancy Peterson of the Sandia Ranger District said. "We checked the lightning-strike data for the last couple of weeks and found that there were no lightning strikes in the area, so we're left to presume that it is human-caused."
Firefighters were on the scene overnight with personnel from the Cibola National Forest and the Zuni and Southern Pueblo Agency working the blaze on the ground backed by one helicopter.
The second helicopter and a crew from Acoma Pueblo arrived during the day.
The fire is considered to be zero percent contained.
La Luz Trail to Sandia Crest south of the fire and the Piedra Lisa Trail along the base of the mountains west of the fire were both closed.
Albuquerque residents first began noticing smoke rising from north of La Luz Trail early Friday morning.
Flames and the ominous orange glow became visible after dark.
While New Mexico's fire season usually ends with the arrival of the monsoon, KRQE Meteorologist John Smith said much of the state is now in a mini fire season from the lack of summer rains.
Meanwhile temperatures 10-15 degrees above average and low humidity are adding to the fire threat, he added.
Winds were calm in Albuquerque early Saturday morning and forecast to be southwesterly 5-10 mph during the day shifting to northwesterly 5-10 mph overnight.
Sunday's forecast bumps up wind speeds to 10-15 mph.
Elsewhere the controlled burn in the Jemez Mountains that pumped thick smoke into the Rio Grande since Wednesday wrapped up on Friday after covering 7,300 acres. The Santa Fe National Forest planned the burn to reduce fuels available for wildfires and to improve forest habitat.
In southwestern Colorado the Vallecito Fire continues to burn threatening about 18 homes west of Vallecito Reservoir northeast of Durango. Those residents are under pre-evacuation warnings.
At last report the fire was at 201 acres and 15 percent contained.
The Little East Fire also continues to burn near Mancos west of Durango although it is now reported to be 100 percent contained at about 100 acres. Some residents there were under a pre-evacuation order that has since been lifted.