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Los Alamos fire explodes to nearly 100,000 acres

Posted by feww on July 1, 2011

‘Unusual Fire’

Extreme fire behavior: Las Conchas Fire consumes Santa Clara Pueblo watershed

The Las Conchas Fire has consumed at least 6,000 acres of forest at the  Santa Clara Pueblo watershed.

Las Conchas Fire map for June 30, 2011. Click image to enlarge. Original Map (PDF)

It’s Like a Sad Déjà vu

Las Conchas Fire is burning areas that were previously consumed by the Cerro Grande in May 2000.

“We’re seeing fire behavior we’ve never seen down here, and it’s really aggressive,” Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker said.

“The burn scars are burning, and that is unusual. The dead and downs are less than 3 percent [in moisture content.]

“It doesn’t get drier than that. If there is any fire they are torching off on us, that is unusual fire behavior.”

Carnage in Santa Clara’s forest

“[The fire] continues to destroy cultural sites, forest resources, plants and animals that the people of Santa Clara depend upon for their livelihood and culture,” said a report.

“Wildfires have burned two-thirds of Santa Clara’s forest over the past 13 years, including 8,300 acres burned by the 1998 Oso Complex Fire and the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire. In response, Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Walter Dasheno has issued a Declaration of Emergency.”

“We are devastated to witness the destruction of our precious homeland,” said Governor Dasheno. “From time immemorial to this day our community has been stewards of this land, have fought to regain portions taken from us and have invested millions of dollars in restoring the forest and resources.”

“Our canyon is the source of our Santa Clara Creek that we rely upon for irrigation but, more than that, it was a beautiful place of abundance in wildlife, clean water, culturally-significant trees and medicinal plants. […] This is the fourth fire that has impacted our homelands and all of them have begun outside our reservation. Santa Clara alone cannot bear the extreme costs to help Mother Nature restore herself.”

Fire Summary [details as of June 30, 2011, 8:30 am local time]

  • Name: Las Conchas Fire
  • Date Started: 1 pm on  6/26/2011
  • Location: Approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35
  • Fuels: Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine. Fuel moisture is extremely low.
  • Cause: Unknown – under investigation [The fire was reportedly ignited by a fallen power line]
  • Size: at least 92,735 acres acres
  • Percent Contained: 3%
  • Residences: 13 destroyed and 3 damaged
  • Commercial Property : 3 damaged
  • Other structures: 2 destroyed

Pacheco Fire

Pacheco Fire
. The 10,000+ acre fire is burning 2 miles north of Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Donaldson Complex Fire

Donaldson Complex Fire, located about 150 miles to the south of Los Alamos, is also raging out of control. The fire, which was started by lightning, is burning in and around the Mescalero Apache Reservation about 10 miles South of Hondo, NM.

As of yesterday evening the fire had consumed about 73,000 acres, about 10 percent of it on tribal land. The humidity in the area is about 1%. (Source: Inciweb.)

Currently about 760,000 acres of New Mexico are on fire. (Figure includes a section of Wallow Fire in Catron County.)

New Mexico’s largest recorded fire was the Dry Lakes Fire, which consumed about 94,000 acres of the Gila National Forest in 2003.

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