Las Conchas Fire

Posted by on 07/14/2011
Smokey and burned, yet unbowed.  New Mexico, 2011.

Smokey and burned, yet unbowed. New Mexico, 2011.

Here are some stunning images of the Las Conchas fire, near Los Alamos, NM.    Las Conchas is now the largest fire in New Mexico history.  ¡Que lastima!

Here are some phenomenal satellite images of northern New Mexico from the International Space Station.  Here’s an insightful post, with the official fire document (PDF), the wikipedia entry, and a slashdot.org discussion.

The fire started on June 26, 2011, when a tree apparently fell on a power line. On the first day, the fire burned 3500 acres, driven by strong and unpredictable winds.

Towering smoke above Los Alamos, NM - Las Conchas fire, 2011

Towering smoke above Los Alamos, NM - Las Conchas fire, 2011

The fire burned over 230,000 acres as of July 15, pushed north by winds into the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

Santa Clara Pueblo and Santa Clara canyon have been threatened by  the fire. The fire also burned south, threatening Cochiti, New Mexico.

By June 30, the burned area had increased to over 103,000 acres (161 sq mi), making it the largest fire in New Mexico history (the second largest is the 2003 Dry Lakes Fire, which burned over 94,000 acres).

Map view of the Las Conchas Fire, 2011.

Valles Cauldera on the left, with Las Conchas fire, 2011

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Los Alamos as of June 27, and Los Alamos National Laboratory was closed to all non-essential personnel.  The evacuation order was lifted on July 3, at which time Los Alamos residents were allowed to return to their homes.  The Los Alamos National Laboratory re-opened on July 6. As of July 14, 2011, the fire was 57% contained.

Sunset over the Jemez Mtns, Las Conchas fire, 2011

Sunset over the Jemez Mtns, Las Conchas fire, 2011

16,000 acres of the Santa Clara pueblo burned in the fire, much of it in the pueblo’s watershed. 45% of the watershed was burned, leading to fears of flooding. The pueblo is currently preparing for floods.

On June 27, the fire reached Los Alamos National Laboratory. Only a one acre spot fire burned on lab property before firefighters extinguished it. That was the only time the fire burned on lab property. Authorities reported that the fire did not currently threaten essential buildings.

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