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Public packs briefing in White Rock

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Local residents and evacuees seek latest fire information

By Mike Cote

Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug Tucker assured a crowd of about 600 people packed into the White Rock Baptist Church Wednesday that their homes would be safe from the destruction caused by the Las Conchas Fire.

Tucker and a host of Los Alamos County officials, along with Gov. Susana Martinez and representatives from Los Alamos National Laboratory provided information and answered questions from White Rock residents and Los Alamos evacuees.

Tucker said the fire crews battling the Las Conchas blaze near Los Alamos were performing very well. He minced no words about whether the fire would reach homes in Los Alamos.

“We are there, we are here in White Rock,” Tucker said. “I promise you we will not lose a structure in Los Alamos County.”

Little new information on the fire was given at Wednesday’s meeting, largely, County Council Chair Sharon Stover said, because there had been very little fire movement over the previous 24 hours.

The Las Conchas blaze is now estimated to have burned 90,000 acres, including 17,000 acres at Bandelier National Monument.

Martinez, who has been working closely with county officials since the start of the fire Sunday afternoon, said she had declared a state of emergency and ordered state police to enforce all local fireworks restrictions. She again reiterated her call on all New Mexico residents to neither buy nor set off fireworks.
Martinez also added that the government is prepared to throw anything necessary at this fire to keep it away from Los Alamos.

“All state resources, all federal resources are available,” Martinez said. “We’ve seen how quickly the fire is on the move and we were ready from day one.”

Public Briefings
The Los Alamos County Council will continue to host town hall meetings concerning the Las Conchas Fire at 2 p.m. daily at the White Rock Baptist Church until further notice. A representative of the USFS will be on hand to answer questions about the fire. Atomic City Transit will offer bus service from the two shelters to the meeting. Bus pick up times are: 12:45 p.m. at the Santa Claran Resort Center and 1:15 p.m. at the Cities of Gold Hotel Conference Center.

Mail
The U.S. Postal Service is providing mail services for Los Alamos County residents who were evacuated from the townsite. The hours of service are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pojoaque High School Gym. The Post Office on Central Avenue in Los Alamos is closed. Anyone receiving mail in a P.O. Box at this location must go to the gym to pick up mail through Saturday. The White Rock Post Office is open. The North Central Regional Transit District is providing buses to take evacuees to the gym to pick up their mail. They will be coordinating departure times with each shelter to accommodate their needs.

Evacuees
The Red Cross reported today that there are currently 58 individuals at the Santa Claran Resort Center and 45 individuals at the Cities of Gold Hotel Conference Center.

Red Cross
Los Alamos County is receiving an outpouring of support from the public for donations and volunteers. The Red Cross is assisting in organizing these efforts. The public is asked to call Daniel Meza at the Red Cross at 505-265-8514.