Public Safety

  • Weather contributes to Los Alamos fire behavior

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Fire crews continue reinforcing fire lines and implementing structure protection plans for the west side of Los Alamos. The Las Conchas Fire has burned nearly 131,000 acres and is 30 percent contained.

    The Forest Service says hot, dry weather Tuesday resulted in extreme fire behavior. Large plumes of smoke were visible from the communities of Santa Clara, Chicoma Mountain, Los Alamos, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and surrounding areas.

    Fire officials say the communities were not threatened as the smoke and flames remained within the fire perimeter.

    Pilots also reported 300 to 500 foot flames moving up the Polvadera Peak.

  • Former hotshot's perspective on Las Conchas Fire

    As a former hotshot, I just wanted to give a little perspective and credit to some people that often get overlooked. This is no way meant to take credit away from anyone. Bless the efforts of the entire town in our second run in with fire. This is a very brief summary.

    One of last, true, dirty, gritty, gun-slinging job in the United States is that of a wildland firefighter. These firefighters slip into the community as a shadow, relatively unnoticed and unconcerned with the spotlight eyes of the media. During fires such as the one we have witnessed, these wildland firefighters set up an entire “tent” city in the midst of disaster for command and control.  

  • County issues safety precautions for returning residents

    Following reopening of the townsite at 8 a.m.this morning Los Alamos County officials announced the following safety and recovery measures.

    Returning Residents Asked to Stay Home.  As the repopulation of the townsite continues throughout the day, residents who have arrived back at their homes are asked to avoid driving for 4-8 hours.  This minimizes overall traffic on main and side streets, to improve safety and efficient traffic flows for those just returning. Residents are also reminded to refrain from leaving valuables out in their driveway unattended to prevent thefts.

  • Public packs briefing in White Rock

    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.

  • Putting a 'face' on the fire

    Parked just outside the evacuee shelter at the Cities of Gold Casino is a tractor trailer with two large satellite dishes on top. This vehicle, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is serving as a remote “spike” station for Incident Commander Joe Reinarz’ Type I Incident Management Team,

    “FEMA has made it possible for us to operate beyond perfect,” said Information Officer Joe Helmich.
    “A spike is designed to take care of significant issues that are not necessarily treatable at the incident command location,” Helmich said. The incident command location is at Jemez Springs. “All of their operations can be duplicated at a remote location such as this.”

  • Horses, owners find temporary home at SF Equestrian Center

    For this week at least, the Santa Fe Equestrian Center is home for the majority of the Los Alamos horses that are kept at North Mesa Stables.

    Others are being housed at Grandabon Farm in Lamy and the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds.

    Getting the horses evacuated was a difficult task.

    Los Alamos resident Lisa Reader and many other horse owners had been through the Cerro Grande Fire so they knew what to expect.

    “During the Cerro Grande Fire, they did not let us back in but this year we were able to make numerous trips,” Reader said. “Last time, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Posse helped out and took the rest of the horses out which we were thankful for but we had no idea which horse went where.”

  • Fire battle begins to turn corner

    Despite the fact that spot fires entered Los Alamos Canyon and also jumped across Camp May Road causing some tense moments for firefighters, Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug Tucker said Wednesday evening, “Today was a great day!”

    “We’re starting to turn the corner on this fire,” Tucker said. “The Type 1 Team did a hell of a job today along with our Los Alamos firefighters and any fire coming on lab property or in to town has been greatly reduced. Tomorrow the townsite’s going to see much less smoke.”

    Tucker explained that all the recent mitigation work around Los Alamos Canyon had alleviated any real threat posed by the spot fires.

  • LA County issues update on Las Conchas wildfire

    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.

  • Airplane deployed to monitor air over NM fire

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — The government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory Wednesday as a 125-square-mile wildfire burned at its doorstep, putting thousands of scientific experiments on hold for days.

    Lab authorities described the monitoring as a precaution, and they, along with outside experts on nuclear engineering, expressed confidence that the blaze would not scatter radioactive material, as some in surrounding communities feared.

    "Our facilities, our nuclear materials are all safe, they're accounted for and they're protected," said lab director Charles McMillan.

  • Chief Calls Wednesday 'Great' Despite Fire Jumping Into Los Alamos Canyon--video extra

    Fire officials have confirmed that the Las Conchas Fire entered Los Alamos Canyon late Wednesday afternoon.

    "We have encountered spot fires in Los Alamos Canyon," said Fire Marshal/Assistant Fire Chief Michael Thompson. "We've got helicopters flying overhead dropping water on the fires."