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Marking the one-year anniversary of the Las Conchas Fire — the state’s second largest fire —was the groundbreaking of a new, permanent Interagency Fire Center Tuesday.
The effort — stemming from coordination among several agencies during last year’s fire — is part of a partnership between the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Bandelier National Monument, and Santa Fe National Forest.
The 6,400 sq. ft. building will be located at Technical Area 49, and will accommodate up to three helicopters and other equipment used for firefighting activities.
The project is expected to be complete by next spring.
According to a press release, the new single-story multipurpose facility will include space for offices, training and conference rooms, and for storage of fire protection/suppression equipment. The new facility is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) criteria.
The $3 million project will serve as a joint coordination and response center for fire events and aims to enhance the current firefighting capacities of all the agencies.
NNSA Los Alamos Site Office Manager Kevin Smith said each agency’s rapid response, integrated effort and quick communication during the Las Conchas fire led to containment of the fire.
“It was time that made all the difference,” he said. “Teaming up has made all the difference in the world.”
He said that’s the catalyst for getting the Interagency Fire Center project off the ground.
National Park Service Facilities and Lands Associate Regional Director Ray Todd said the new facility will allow the agencies to manage fire responses together rather than be bound by jurisdictions and fences.
“It’s an example of what we can achieve when we work together,” he said.
And Española District Ranger Sandy Hurlocker said while he’ll never forget the Las Conchas Fire, he was glad to have Tuesday’s announcement as a counterpoint.