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Fire season looms

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Wildfire: Area agencies prepare residents

By Whitney Jones

As fire season begins, the Los Alamos Fire Department and other area agencies are hosting an informational session to keep the risk of wildfire on people’s minds.

Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider said the session will help residents learn about ongoing mitigation efforts, preparations in case of a catastrophic emergency, and potential mitigation efforts they can do around their own homes.

“We decided that it would be good to just remind folks there’s still a lot of fuel,” Grider said. “The canyons are still primed for a wildfire.”

He pointed to an example of a small November fire in Reno, Neva. He said despite snowfall and cold temperatures, a wildfire started that was fanned by high winds and it ultimately consumed 20 homes.

“It doesn’t take a fire of thousands of acres to consume homes,” Grider said.

Similar informational events were held after the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000, but interest in the sessions waned as the area was fire-free for more than decade, Grider said.

That changed last year with the Las Conchas Fire.

This year’s event will be from 1-5 p.m. April 14 from in the Los Alamos Council Chambers.

The event will include a panel discussion about the Las Conchas Fire. The panel may potentially include representatives from the United States Park Service, Forest Service, Valles Calderas National Preserve, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County and the National Weather Service.

And among several expected displays at the event, Grider said the lab will simulate how fire will move through Los Alamos with a map projector aimed at a sand box shaped with the area’s topographic detail. He said the exhibit will give people the opportunity to see almost exactly how a new fire might progress through the area.

And for folks who haven’t seen up close photos of the Las Conchas Fire, Grider said, photos will be displayed for viewing.
Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog will also make an appearance.