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Posts Tagged ‘NM wildfires’

Los Alamos Fire Grows by 20 percent in 2 Days

Posted by feww on July 4, 2011

Las Conchas blaze has now consumed at least 121,248 acres

Las Conchas fire continues to grow despite higher relative humidity in the fire area


Las Conchas Fire Map, July 2-3, 2011. Click image to enlarge. Full Size.

Las Conchas Fire Summary of Details

  • Size: 121,248 acres
  • Percent Contained: 11%
  • Fuels Involved: Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine. Fuel moisture is extremely low.
  • Date Started: 06/26/2011
  • Location: On Santa Fe National Forest in Sandoval, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba Counties; Santa Clara Reservation; Bandelier National Monument; Valles Caldera National Preserve and private in-holdings.
  • Cause: Human – under investigation [The fire was reportedly ignited by a fallen power line] 
  • Resources: 1,995 Personnel; 18 Helicopters; 72 Engines; 26 Water Tenders; 8 Dozers
  • Residences: 450 threatened; 63 destroyed
  • Outbuildings: 140 threatened; 32 destroyed
  • Injuries to Date: 4

Photos:


Las Conchas Fire
. Looking toward the caldera from fire camp. Credit: B. Stalter


Las Conchas Fire
. A pyrocumulus cloud is visible from the Valles Caldera. Credit: J. Coil

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Los Alamos Fire Breaks NM Record

Posted by feww on July 2, 2011

US Wildfires Consume 7.7 Million Acres in 6 Months

Massive Las Conchas Blaze Raging Near Los Alamos Now the Largest in New Mexico History

As of July 1, 2011 at 4:00 am MDT, Las Conchas Blaze had consumed at least 103,993 acres of Conifer and Ponderosa Pines in  Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico.


Las Conchas Fire Map for July 1. Map Created 06/30/2011 11:35:06. Click image to enlarge. Click HERE for PDF version

Fire Summary [details as of July 1, 2011, 4:00 am MDT]

  • National Preparedness Level: 3
  • Southern Area Preparedness Level: 5
  • 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 103,993 acres   [FIRE-EARTH estimate: 112,000 acres]
  • Percent Contained: 5%
  • Residences: [Estimated dozens destroyed or damaged. Recent official data unavailable, as of posting.]
  • Commercial Property : [About a dozen destroyed or damaged. Recent official data unavailable. ]
  • Other structures: [About a dozen destroyed or damaged. Recent official data unavailable.]
  • Humidity:  1%
  • Weather: Critical fire weather conditions associated with strong winds of 25 to 40 mph and low relative humidity below 12 percent will develop across much of Colorado, northern New Mexico, west  Texas and southwestern Kansas. Isolated thunderstorms will form in southeastern Arizona and western New Mexico in the afternoon. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will move across the northern Rockies into the northern Plains and the western Great Lakes. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will develop across Florida and south Texas.
  • Fire Info. The Las Conchas and Donaldson fires in New Mexico were extremely active yesterday. Thousands of people who live near these fires remain evacuated. Fire managers are prepared for another day of critical fire weather conditions in several western states. Firefighters were able to reach containment goals on seven large fires yesterday.

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

US Wildfires by State [YTD]

  • Alabama: 120,000 [Source: NIFC]
  • Alaska: 262,621 acres [Source: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Situation Report]
  • Arizona: At least 1,000,000 acres [Source: InciWeb, others, some data may be missing]
  • Arkansas: 155,000 acres [Source: NIFC]
  • California: 37,000 acres [Source: InciWeb, others]
  • Colorado: 150,000 acres [Source: InciWeb, others]
  • Florida: About 400,000 [Source: fl-dof and others]
  • Georgia: 409,207 acres [Source: Georgia Forestry Commission]
  • Kansas: 112, 000 [Source: NIFC]
  • Kentucky: 30,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • Louisiana: 160,000 acres [Source: NIFC]
  • Minnesota: 90,000 acres [Source: NIFC]
  • Mississippi: 55,000 acres [Source: NIFC]
  • Missouri: 50,000 acres [Source: NIFC]
  • Nebraska: 30,000  [Source: NIFC]
  • New Mexico: 1,000,000 [Source: Various]
  • North Carolina: 220,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • Oregon: 12,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • South Carolina: 75,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • South Dakota: 23,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • Tennessee: 22,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • Texas: 3,215,168 acres [Source: Texas Forest Service]
  • Wisconsin: 25,000 acres  [Source: NIFC]
  • Others: 70,000 [Source: Various]
  • National Total: ~ 7.7 million acres

Texas: The Worst Hit State

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated the entire state of Texas a disaster area with 213 of the states 254 counties declared as primary natural disaster areas following one of the worst droughts ever recorded. Since January 1, 2011, the drought, wildfires and other natural disasters have destroyed at least a third of the  corn, oats, wheat, pasture and forage crops in the Lone Star State.  The back-to-back disasters have also destroyed tens of thousands of cattle, horses and other farm animals, so far this year. Source: 2011 Disaster Calendar – June


A view of the Rock House wildfire seen from the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. Photo Source: InciWeb

Texas Fires

Since fire season began on Nov. 15, 2010, Texas Forest Service and local firefighters have responded to 13,467 fires that have burned a record-setting 3,292,070 acres. The largest fire burned 314,444 acres in Presidio county in West Texas in April. Six of the state’s largest wildfires occurred in a 19-day period during that month.

Currently 237 of 254 Texas counties have burn bans. More than two-thirds of Texas counties have experienced wildfire this season. More than 2,000 structures, including 554 homes, have been lost. Source: InciWeb

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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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Las Conchas Fire Approaching Plutonium Dump Site

Posted by feww on June 29, 2011

Massive Los Alamos blaze has consumed at least 61,000 acres, threatening plutonium waste storage

The blaze may have already reached the grounds of the LANL complex, and could reach a toxic dump site where 30,000 drums (6.25 million liters) of plutonium-contaminated waste are stored.

“Carl Beard, director of operations for the lab, said there has been no release of radioactive or hazardous materials into the environment and there was no immediate threat to public safety, ‘even in these extreme conditions.'” Said a report.

“The concern is that these drums will get so hot that they’ll burst,” Joni Arends, executive director of the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, told the AP news agency.

“That would put this toxic material into the plume,” she added.

Looking northwest from southern edge of municpal airport in Los Alamos. June 27, 2011. Photo by LANL phot-stream on Flickr

Volcanic-like plumes of smoke have blackened the sky over the Los Alamos forcing the evacuation of the entire city of about 12,000.

The communities of Cochiti Mesa, and Las Conchas have been evacuated.

On June 27, the fire breached the grounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory and a one-acre spot fire reportedly burned on the lab complex before firefighters extinguished it.

Las Conchas Fire Map


Las Conchas Fire map June 28, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

What People Have Said:

“I seriously believe it could go to 100,000 acres … We have fire all around the lab. It’s a road away.” Doug Tucker, Los Alamos fire chief said.

“We’re doing our best to keep it off the lab,” He added.

“We are throwing absolutely everything at this that we got,” Sen. Tom Udall of N.M. said.

Fire Summary:

  • Name: Las Conchas Fire
  • Date Started: 1 p.m., 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: 60,741 acres based on infrared data [as of latest available data posted on the Internet on June 28, 2011, 11:30 am local time]
  • Percent Contained: 0%

Fire Update: [from InciWeb]

East – Crews are working to protect structures near Bandelier, as well as working to contain the fire along the Frijole Canyon.

West – Crews are building direct lines to prevent fire movement to the west.

Northeast – Crews are working to contain the fire using burnout methods to prevent the fire from spreading north of Pajarito Road and east of Highway 501.

South – North of Cochiti fire progression is being slowed by lighter fuel types. Firefighters are evaluating methods to stop the fire from spreading south.

Current Evacuations:

City of Los Alamos – The acting Los Alamos County Administrator issued an evacuation order for the city of Los Alamos. The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque is offering shelter services for evacuating residents of Los Alamos. Los Alamos evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk. White Rock is currently under a voluntary evacuation.The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque offers shelter services for evacuating residents of the Los Alamos townsite. Cities of Gold also accepts pets. Many residents remain in White Rock following voluntary evacuations which began Sunday. Los Alamos townsite evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk. The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque offers shelter services for evacuating residents of the Los Alamos townsite. Cities of Gold also accepts pets. Many residents remain in White Rock following voluntary evacuations which began Sunday. Los Alamos townsite evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk. The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque offers shelter services for evacuating residents of the Los Alamos townsite. Cities of Gold also accepts pets. Many residents remain in White Rock following voluntary evacuations which began Sunday. Los Alamos townsite evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk.

Pre-Evacuation Alert

If you live near the fire or near the Forest, you should always be ready for emergencies including evacuations, the three-step process is easy to remember and implement:

· Ready – Take personal responsibility and prepare before the threat of a wildland fire so your home is ready in case of a fire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot. Plan escapes routes. Make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action.

· Set – Act immediately. Pack your vehicle with your emergency items. Remember your six P’s: people, personal computers, pets, pills, papers and pictures. Stay aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media and your local fire department.

· Go – Leave early! Follow your personal action plan. Doing so will not only support your safety, but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.

Closures

NM 4 is closed at Jemez Falls Campground and at NM 501. NM 502 westbound into Los Alamos is now closed to all motorists. Access is controlled and limited to official traffic until further notification.NM 502 westbound into Los Alamos is now closed to all motorists. Access is controlled and limited to official traffic until further notification.NM 502 westbound into Los Alamos is now closed to all motorists. Access is controlled and limited to official traffic until further notification.

Bandelier National Monument: The Bandelier National Monument will be closed indefinitely.

Los Alamos National Labs: The Los Alamos National Laboratory will be closed due to the fire. All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities, and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site. Employees that are considered nonessential should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers. Employees should check local news sources, the LANL Update Hotline (505) 667-6622 and the LANL web page http://www.lanl.gov for updates. All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected. LANL staff is coordinating the on-site response and supporting the county and federal fire response.

Safety Message

The wildfire and burnout operations will continue to produce heavy smoke. Residents with respiratory problems in the path of smoke may want to consider relocating temporarily until smoke dissipates. Motorists should exercise caution due to reduced visibility.

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Los Alamos Fire Explodes to 50,000 acres

Posted by feww on June 28, 2011

Las Conchas wildfire burning near Los Alamos grows by a whopping 850 percent

The fire briefly entered the grounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory, but was reportedly beaten back by firefighters.


Fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory

The flames have not yet reached buildings on 28,000-acre lab complex, and authorities said there was little threat to plutonium facility on the northeast side of the complex, according to reports.

“The facility is very well protected from any kind of wildland fire threat,” said a lab spokesman.

In May 2000 a wildfire destroyed several buildings within the complex causing at least $1 billion in damage, he said.

Cerro Grande fire consumed nearly 50,000 acres destroying several hundred homes and about 100 buildings within LANL complex 11 years ago.


Las Conchas wildfire. Freeze frame from a video clip.

The fire started about 1:00 pm on Sunday, June 26, 2011 and is currently zero percent contained.

“The fire burned actively all day to the north/northeast. Running, crowning, and spotting up to a half a mile of the head of the fire was observed.” Said a fire report.

Fire Location

Jemez Ranger District, Santa Fe National Forest; approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35.


Las Conchas Fire map. Click image to enlarge.

Evacuations

The city of Los Alamos is under MANDATORY evacuation as of 1:45 pm (June 26). White Rock remains under VOLUNTARY evacuation. Cochiti Mesa, Las Conchas, Bandelier National Monument, and campgrounds near the fire were evacuated yesterday. There were approximately 100 residents evacuated from Cochiti Mesa and Las Conchas, and no evacuees reported to the evacuation center at La Cueva Fire Station.

Los Alamos National Labs

The Los Alamos National Laboratory will be closed due to the fire. All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities, and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site. Employees that are considered nonessential should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers. Employees should check local news sources, the LANL Update Hotline (505.667.6622) and the LANL web page http://www.lanl.gov fo updates. All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected. LANL staff is coordinating the on-site response and supporting the county and federal fire response.

Threats to Structures and powerlines

  • Power and phone lines are down in the area.
  • All aircraft in the are have been grounded due to the smoke and other hazards.

Pacheco Fire: 2 miles north of Santa Fe Ski Basin


Source: InciWeb

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