When the winds are high and the air is dry in Los Alamos County, everyone this time of year seems a bit on edge, especially when wildfires start up nearby.
With the memories of Las Conchas and Cerro Grande wildfires still freshly engrained in the memories of many residents, these days are spent looking to the horizon for the telltale plume that another wildfire is on the way.
Their memories were refreshed this week as the Thompson Ridge fire grew to close to 18,000 acres and almost consumed the Valles Caldera Historic District.
Only a week before the fire started, officials offered a tour of the Emergency Operations Center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which made one tour guide’s words rather prophetic.
“Thought it was a good idea to bring you in here before we had an emergency, so that you had an idea of what we do and how we are equipped to deal with an emergency situation,” said Marla Brooks, emergency group leader at LANL.
The tour was organized so the media could get a better understanding of the EOC’s role in protecting the community, and its laboratory, from wildfire and other threats.
While the EOC was clearly the centerpiece of the tour, Brooks said when a call or an alert comes in; it’s their field operations that are usually contacted first.