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LA County issues update on Las Conchas wildfire

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As of Thursday morning, fire crews reported the northern finger of the blaze is extending northward  toward the Santa Clara Pueblo.  Incident Teams continue work on all sections of the massive blaze, with two Type 1 incident management teams divided to work on the north and south ends of the fire.  Smoke over Los Alamos and White Rock was especially heavy this morning with a thermal inversion overnight, but smoke should clear later this morning.

Winds today will be the biggest challenge for firefighters, with gusts as much as 35mph in the forecast and out of the southwest. The emphasis on protecting Los Alamos and Pajarito Canyons will continue to be at the forefront of firefighting and mitigation efforts. In addition, County Public Works crews began working in Pueblo and School Canyons this morning to remove sediment, in anticipation of increased storm runoff after the fire because of the heavily burned soils in the watershed above Los Alamos. Improvements to Pueblo Canyon infrastructure, such as a larger culvert installed at Diamond Drive/North Rd  after flooding occurred in July 2001 (due to the Cerro Grande May 2000 fire) along with increased infrastructure protection for utilities in the canyon, are expected to be able to handle the increased run off.

The County will hold another noon news conference at 20th/Trinity at the Media Staging Area, followed by a 2 p.m. Town Hall for White Rock and Los Alamos residents at the White Rock Baptist Church (80 State Rt 4) to answer questions and provide updates on the fire. US Forest Service and other organizational representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the fire as well.

While today will be another challenging day for firefighters battling the Las Conchas wildfire, County officials voiced support, sympathy and understanding for residents across New Mexico who are facing wildfires of their own.

“Any community would be stressed by wildfire of any size.  We are not alone in our vulnerability to wildfire during this record drought season,” said Acting Assistant County Administrator Steve Lynne.  “We want to thank Rio Arriba County, the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, Colfax County, City of Tucumcari, and Torrance County for their tremendous and timely assistance in fighting the wildfire.  The regional and national support we’ve received these last few days has been phenomenal, and we are greatly appreciative. As the fire begins to spread further north, however, we know that our neighbors nearby are facing significant firefighting challenges and then recovery in the weeks to come. We will stand ready to offer our help and assistance to our Northern New Mexico neighbors any way that we can.”