Las Conchas Fire Burning at Ski Hill

New Mexico's fast-moving Las Conchas fire has scorched 60,000 acres in just 48 hours. The town of Los Alamos has been evacuated, and the fire is burning at the ski hill.
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Local and Type 1 fire crews continue efforts to contain and control the approximately-60,000 acre Las Conchas wildfire as it approaches the Los Alamos Ski Hill area. Water tanks throughout the town site are at full volume according to Los Alamos Dept. of Public Utilities officials.

“We’ve greatly improved the fire fighting capability of the water distribution system since the Cerro Grande fire of 2000, with improved storage capacity and hydraulics” said Utility Manager John Arrowsmith. “The Arizona water tank, built after the Cerro Grande Fire, with 8 million gallons of capacity is key for fire protection.” 

At the 6 a.m. Emergency Operations Center briefing today, on-the-ground reports from firefighters described spotting fires in the Pajarito Mountain vicinity. Officials reported, “There is fire across the Ski Hill, a slowly creeping fire across the top of Pajarito Canyon, rimming fire near camp May, and fire on Pipeline Road. The Ski Lodge can be saved and that’s why we’re there now, preparing the buildings...We are confident that we can protect structures because of the strike teams we have in place.”

The Type 1 Incident Management Team team brings improved communication and control capabilities on this effort, as well as increased manpower. Later on Tuesday a second Type 1 Incident Management Team will be arriving, and an Area Command will be initiated. Type 1 teams are interagency fire fighting teams working together with local, state and federal agencies. 

Most of the residents of the Los Alamos townsite evacuated Monday under a mandatory evacuation order with an orderly flow leaving the community. Homes in ‘at risk’ areas are being watered down by the Fire Dept. Continued notification to residents to evacuate is occurring via print and broadcast media, as well as individual home visits from law enforcement officials who make note of their location and contact information for follow up, should the fire spread to their location.

“Those who elect to stay at the Los Alamos townsite place themselves at risk. However, the safety of emergency responders who might be called on to rescue those who have not departed, is also affected,” said Deputy Police Chief Kevin Purtymun. It is estimated that a very small number of residents have elected to stay. Police are patrolling to ensure the safety of any remaining residents. No casualties have been reported in this rapidly evolving event, according to officials at the Emergency Operations Center. 

For more: Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.

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