A wildfire that ignited Saturday in a heavily forested, rugged area east of Taos had burned over 7,400 acres by Sunday afternoon.
No one had been evacuated, and “there is no direct threat” to nearby communities, MaryAnna Clemons, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said in a statement Sunday morning.
The Luna Fire was burning in the Carson National Forest about two miles northeast of Chacon, a rural community of a few hundred people near the Taos and Mora county line.
The fire was reported at 500 acres Saturday night, 1,000 acres at 8 a.m. Sunday and then 7,445 acres just before noon Sunday.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Several people said on social media that they saw a flash before the smoke and flames were visible. Some thought a plane had crashed.
Authorities investigated a report Saturday night of a “low flying aircraft and a loud bang” near the La Junta Canyon in Mora County, but they were unable to locate anything because of the rugged terrain and heavy smoke, said Dusty Francisco, a New Mexico State Police spokesman.
A message to the Federal Aviation Administration seeking information was not immediately returned. The agency’s list of crashes and fatalities was only updated through Friday.
Martín Duran said the flames came within two miles of his family’s ranch near Chacon.
“I came from Las Vegas [N.M.] and a few friends showed up and we started cutting fire lines around the house with bulldozers and a skid steer,” Duran said.
The winds kept shifting and it was hard to tell which way the fire was burning. By Sunday morning, the fire’s path seemed to have slowed toward the ranch.
“It was a long night,” Duran said. “No one slept.”
Marcus Casias and a friend were camping at Duran Campground near La Junta Canyon when someone drove through shouting at them to get out because of a fire.
“We couldn’t see flames but there was a faint orange glow in the distance and the smell of burning wood like a crisp campfire, so it was close but not on top of us,” Casias said.
He said the people who alerted them to get out told him they were “right on top of it and it was a rager.”