USA — A fast-moving wildfire has broken out in New Mexico and forced officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to close the site Monday as residents nearby evacuate their homes.
The fire has grown to 3,500 acres, or 5.4 square miles, since it started at around 1 p.m. on Sunday about 12 miles southwest of the town of Los Alamos.
Los Alamos County authorities have issued voluntary evacuation orders for Los Alamos and White Rock. Between 50 and 100 rural homes were under mandatory evacuations.
The laboratory, meanwhile, has activated its emergency operations center. Officials said in a news release that all radioactive and hazardous material was being protected and that the fire had not yet crossed onto the laboratory property.
Las Conchas Wildfire June 27 8:00 am New Acreage Figures
Fire Name: Las Conchas
Time/Date Started: 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, 2011
Location: Jemez Ranger District, Santa Fe National Forest; approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35. The fire started on private land.
Legal Description: T18N, R4E, SEC 4
Cause: Unknown, under investigation
Fuels: Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine
Size: 43,597 acres, based on overnight infrared mapping. 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.
% Contained: 0
Resources Committed:Joe S. Reinarz Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered. Three helicopters, two Hotshot crews, nine hand crews, five dozers and thirteen engines have been fighting the fire and more are expected to arrive. This is an interagency fire fighting effort. In fire management we all work together. We are working with local, state and federal agencies.
Weather:Todays red flag conditions (hot temperatures, low humidity, high winds) contributed to the intense fire behavior and rapid fire growth. For a complete weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow click here.
Structures/threats:Structures, powerlines and natural gas lines. The fire is approximately 1 mile southwest of the boundary of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
Evacuations:Cochiti Mesa, Las Conchas, Bandelier National Monument, and campgrounds near the fire were evacuated today. 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. Voluntary evacuations were also issued for White Rock and Los Alamos. Because these are voluntary evacuations, no evacuation center has been set up at this time.
If you live near the fire or near the Forest who should always be ready for emergencies including evacuations, the three-step process is easy to remember and implement:
Ready Take personal responsibility and prepare long 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 Ps: people, personnel 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.
NM 4 is closed at Jemez Falls Campground and NM 501.
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 are considered nonessential and 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 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.
Bandelier National Monument:The Bandelier National Monument will be closed for at least three days due to the fire.
Summary: Active fire behavior has been observed with running and spotting on both sides of NM Hwy 4. Firefighters are currently conducting burnout operations (fighting fire with fire). Burnout operations consist of setting fire near containment line to consume fuel between the edge of the fire and the containment line.
Smoke: A smoke plume emitting black and grey smoke was visible today from Jemez, Bernalillo, Los Alamos, Cuba, Gallina, Santa Fe, NM 4, NM 84/285 and I-25. This afternoon, wind from the west pushed the smoke east and north toward White Rock, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Tesuque, and Nambe and other surrounding communities. Other areas further to the east and notth may also experience smoke impacts. For more information on smoke impacts from the Las Conchas and Pacheco Wildfires visit: http://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc/predictive/outlooks/smoke/swcc_smoke_outlook.pdf. For more information on how to protect yourself from smoke visit: http://nmhealth.org/eheb/documents/Smoke_FACTSHEET_06.8.11_000.