During the summer of 2011, which happens to be one of the worst droughts on record for those of us here in the United States Southwest, fires erupted all over causing mass destruction in many states. I reside in Albuquerque NM, and we were very fortunate here in the city. No large fires. A few small ones sprang up in the Rio Grande Bosque, but were quickly put out with little damage. However, Albuquerque, as well as a large part of the state, were victims from the mass amount of smoke and ash from the Arizona Wallow fires in June 2011. The first picture below is one I took from my back yard late one afternoon. No, it is not a setting sun… it is pink due to the thick smoke in the air. Ash covered everything for several days, choked our swamp coolers, and caused a large increase of asthma related problems in the hospitals. Below that are three photos I took from the north side of Albuquerque of the smoke pouring from the fires in Los Alamos (the Las Conchas fire), which threatened the nuclear lab facility there (home of the A-Bomb.) Los Alamos NM is approximately 70 miles how the crow flies. More…
Mike Cannon, a high-security scientist from the Los Alamos National Labs, has been missing since June 25th, the day before the Las Conchas fire started just outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Mr Cannon went out for a hike this day.
Mike has worked with such organizations as the CIA. He left without his wallet and cell phone – which he has been known to leave behind when he did not want to be disturbed while hiking. He did make some unusual purchases the day before he left for his hike, including several suits from Mens Warehouse, and a gun. He does enjoy target shooting, so this is not considered abnormal for him.
Mike was last seen near Rover Park in White Rock, New Mexico. He was wearing blue jeans and a button-down shirt. He may be riding an old silver Schwinn bicycle, red helmet, and carrying a blue backpack.
Mike is 66 years old, weighs about 160 pounds, is 5′ 9″ tall, hazel eyes, glasses, and white hair with a receding hairline.
His family has asked any information to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Alamos residents start returning home after evacuations lifted on Sunday morning. All normal access points to the town are now open with the following exceptions: SR 4 remains closed west of Monterey Drive South and all access points to the Jemez Mountains remain closed.
Because the fire is not completely contained, wildfire and burnout operations will continue to produce heavy smoke.
Investigators believe the fire started after an aspen tree was blown down onto nearby power lines during a period of strong winds. The contact resulted in the line arcing, which then caused the tree to catch fire. Heat and flame caused the line to snap, which then allowed the burning tree to fall onto the ground where the fire spread into nearby vegetation.
Investigators from New Mexico State Forestry, the USDA Forest Service, New Mexico State Police and Sandoval County conducted the investigation and were on scene shortly after the fire started on Sunday, June 26. Since then, the fire has burned more than 121,248 acres. Containment currently at 11%.
Welcome home, Los Alamos.
And a special thanks to all the firefights who helped keep the town safe.
Amazing collection of dramatic photos from NM and AZ fires.
Nearly 104,000 acres have been scorched as of this afternoon, July 1st, 2011. Containment is only 3%. Las Conchas Fire is now considered the largest in New Mexico history, and still growing. Santa Clara Pueblo is hard hit, and their vital watershed is not nothing but flames. Los Alamos National Labs have remained untouched – but considering the labs have been their since WWII… who knows what was buried in the canyons and mountains in decades past when radioactive waste disposal was not what it is today. After all… this is the birthplace of the A-Bomb which was dropped on Nagaski and Hiroshima….
Below are pictures I just took this evening from the north side of Albuquerque, approximately 60 miles as the crow flies to the fires.
Click on a picture below to enlarge, then continue to scroll through by clicking on the picture.
City will not ban fireworks due to fear of civil lawsuits
Apparently the city of Albuquerque will not ban fireworks due to a fear of possible civil lawsuits. How asinine is this? New Mexico is in the the worst drought in recorded history… and the city is worried about law suits?
How about this… when we lose numerous homes due to a careless firecracker, those homeowners who lost their homes should sue the city for NOT banning fireworks.
Since the city will not ban fireworks (is there money under the table here???)… then here is my personal plea to all… please, wait until next year. Wait until the monsoons have passed, and hopefully rehydrated the state…. then set your fireworks off.
I am not anti-fireworks… I grew up with a family that had annual firework extravaganzas every Fourth in our rural Indiana fields. Love them! But I favor keeping our Bosque, keeping our National Forests, and keeping our homes over fireworks any day.
The fireworks can wait.
Here is my little video pleading no fireworks. The footage of the Bosque here in Albuquerque I took today. Below the video is an update on the Las Conchas Fire, and new photos from Los Alamos National Lab’s photostream on Flickr.
Las Conchas Fire Update
For Immediate Release: June 30, 2011
Date Started: 1 p.m., 6/26/2011
Number of Personnel: Approximately 752 personnel including seven hotshot crews and 14 handcrews.
Location: Approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35
Fuels: Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine. Fuel moisture is extremely low.
Cause: Unknown – under investigation
Equipment: Four dozers and 28 engines
Size: approximately 92,735 acres
Aircraft: Five helicopters
Percent Contained: 3%
Residences: 13 destroyed and 3 damaged
Commercial Property: 3 damaged
Other structures: 2 destroyed
Las Conchas Fire Burns More Than 6,000 acres of Santa Clara Pueblo Land – 6/30
Santa Clara Pueblo, NM – The Las Conchas Fire has charred more than 6,000 acres of the watershed of Santa Clara Pueblo and continues to destroy cultural sites, forest resources, plants and animals that the people of Santa Clara depend upon for their livelihood and culture.
“We are devastated to witness the destruction of our precious homeland,” said Governor Dasheno. “From time immemorial to this day our community has been stewards of this land, have fought to regain portions taken from us and have invested millions of dollars in restoring the forest and resources.”
Nevertheless, after two days of extreme fire behavior, the Las Conchas Fire entered Santa Clara Pueblo lands mid-day on June 29. In the last 24 hours the fire has exploded across the western third of the reservation. This includes the area known as “P’opii Khanu,” the headwaters of the creek, which the Pueblo regained in 2000 after 140 years of struggle.
Below: Las Conchas Fire progression map June 20, 2011
The wildfire has destroyed 30 structures south and west of Los Alamos, for many stirring memories of a devastating blaze in May 2000 that destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in town.
Flames were just across the road from the southern edge of the famed lab, where scientists developed the first atomic bomb during World War II. The facility cut natural gas to some areas as a precaution.
The lab, which employs about 15,000 people, covers more than 36 square miles and includes about 2,000 buildings at nearly four dozen sites. They include research facilities, as well as waste disposal sites. Some facilities, including the administration building, are in the community of Los Alamos, while others are several miles away from the town.
The spot fire scorched a section known as Tech Area 49, which was used in the early 1960s for a series of underground tests with high explosives and radioactive materials.
Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said environmental specialists were monitoring air quality, but the main concern was smoke.
The anti-nuclear watchdog group Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety said the fire appeared to be about 3.5 miles from a dumpsite where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste were stored in fabric tents above ground. The group said the drums were awaiting transport to a dump site in southern New Mexico.
“The concern is that these drums will get so hot that they’ll burst. That would put this toxic material into the plume. It’s a concern for everybody,” said Joni Arends, executive director of the group.
Arends’ group also worried that the fire could stir up nuclear-contaminated soil on lab property where experiments were conducted years ago. Over the years, burrowing animals have brought that contamination to the surface, she said.
Lab officials at first declined to confirm that such drums were on the property but, in a statement early Tuesday, lab spokeswoman Lisa Rosendorf said such drums are stored in a section of the complex known as Area G. She said the drums contain cleanup from Cold War-era waste that the lab sends away in weekly shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
She said the drums were on a paved area with few trees nearby and would be safe even if a fire reached the storage area.
Los Alamos National Lab was established during the Second World War as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb.
“The hair on the back of your neck goes up,” Los Alamos County fire chief Doug Tucker said of first seeing the fire in the Santa Fe National Forest on Sunday. “I saw that plume and I thought, ‘Oh my god here we go again.’”
Las Conchas Fire Update – June 28, 2011, 11:30 am
Posted on June 28, 2011 by npsnmfireinfo
Date Started: 1 p.m., 6/26/2011 Number of Personnel: Approximately 315. Resources include two hotshot crews and nine hand crews. An Area Command Team and an additional Type I Incident Management Team have been assigned to the fire.
Location: Approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35 Fuels: Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine. Fuel moisture is extremely low.
Cause: Unknown – under investigation Equipment: Five dozers and 13 engines
Size: 60,741 acres based on infrared data Aircraft: Seven helicopters
Percent Contained: 0%
Media should call (505) 428-7739 to coordinate interviews.
For information regarding evacuations or information regarding the Los Alamos National Laboratory, please call 505-820-1226.
A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, at the Madonna Parish Hall in Jemez Springs, off Hwy 4 between mile marker 15 and 16.
East – Crews are working to protect structures near Bandelier, as well as working to contain the fire along the Frijole Canyon.
West – Crews are building direct lines to prevent fire movement to the west.
Northeast – Crews are working to contain the fire using burnout methods to prevent the fire from spreading north of Pajarito Road and east of Highway 501.
South – North of Cochiti fire progression is being slowed by lighter fuel types. Firefighters are evaluating methods to stop the fire from spreading south.
City of Los Alamos – The acting Los Alamos County Administrator issued an evacuation order for the city of Los Alamos. The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque is offering shelter services for evacuating residents of Los Alamos. Los Alamos evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk. White Rock is currently under a voluntary evacuation.
If you live near the fire or near the Forest, you should always be ready for emergencies including evacuations, the three-step process is easy to remember and implement:
• Ready – Take personal responsibility and prepare before the threat of a wildland fire so your home is ready in case of a fire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot. Plan escapes routes. Make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action.
• Set – Act immediately. Pack your vehicle with your emergency items. Remember your six P’s: people, personal computers, pets, pills, papers and pictures. Stay aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media and your local fire department
• Go – Leave early! Follow your personal action plan. Doing so will not only support your safety, but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.
NM 4 is closed at Jemez Falls Campground and at NM 501. NM 502 westbound into Los Alamos is now closed to all motorists. Access is controlled and limited to official traffic until further notification.
Bandelier National Monument: The Bandelier National Monument will be closed indefinitely.
Los Alamos National Labs: The Los Alamos National Laboratory will be closed due to the fire. All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities, and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site. Employees that are considered nonessential should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers. Employees should check local news sources, the LANL Update Hotline (505) 667-6622 and the LANL web page http://www.lanl.gov for updates. All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected. LANL staff is coordinating the on-site response and supporting the county and federal fire response.
The wildfire and burnout operations will continue to produce heavy smoke. Residents with respiratory problems in the path of smoke may want to consider relocating temporarily until smoke dissipates. Motorists should exercise caution due to reduced visibility.
(below) Google Earth Active Fire Mapping: Los Alamos snapshot 062811
(below) Google Earth Active Fire Mapping: New Mexico snapshot 062811
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., June 28 (UPI) — Residents were ordered to evacuate Los Alamos, N.M., as an out-of-control wildfire was at the town’s edge and buffeted the secretive U.S. military nuclear lab.
A Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman said the blaze, at the facility’s southern boundary, remained a few miles from key structures on the 25,600-acre property.
Nuclear and other hazardous materials were in safe storage deep inside vaults within concrete and steel buildings, Kevin Roark told the Alibi newspaper of Albuquerque.
The lab would not comment on a Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety allegation that the wildfire was about 3 miles from a nuclear dumpsite containing tens of thousands of 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste.
The anti-nuclear watchdog group’s Web site appeared hacked early Tuesday morning, a United Press International check indicated. Its Facebook page had six messages from people alerting the group of the possible hacking, including a message commenting on the timing of the incident happening “just as the fires started.”
The wildfire, which began Sunday and exceeded 50,000 acres, or 78 square miles, early Tuesday, destroyed at least 30 homes and outbuildings south and west of Los Alamos, fire officials said.
“We don’t have a hard number,” Los Alamos Assistant Fire Chief Mike Thompson told the Albuquerque Journal.
Officials planned a flyover Tuesday morning to assess its scope.
The fire — whose flames and smoke could be seen from Albuquerque, about 80 miles south — caused erosion and runoff, with contaminants threatening the Rio Grande, officials said.
Roark told the Alibi, “There were not appreciable levels of radioactivity in the runoff.”
After the Cerro Grande fire in 2000, which devastated Los Alamos and changed firefighting policies and strategies all across the West, the lab installed structures to prevent heavy runoff, he said.
Some residents evacuating the town were “calm and other people are really frantic,” Sheila Luna told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“The Conoco gas station ran out of gas last night, and at the next gas station I waited for 15 minutes before I could get the car filled up,” she said. “That part was kind of scary to me.”
Please, everyone in New Mexico… BOYCOTT ALL FIREWORKS THIS YEAR!
Fires are erupting all over the state, no rain in site.
Page on Facebook in support of this boycott (must be logged into FB): Click here
Los Alamos evacuated as Las Conchas fire grows
A mandatory evacuation for the City of Los Alamos is in effect Monday (June 27) as the Las Conchas wildfire threatens the area.
Eletha Trujillo with the Taos County Office of Emergency Management said the primary health concern for Taos County residents was the smoke from the fire that has settled in the area.
Trujillo said the forecast tonight is for cooler temperatures and calming winds, meaning Taoseños might wake up to especially smoky conditions tomorrow (June 28). She recommended that people with health conditions stay indoors and asked that drivers be especially cautious because of limited visability.
Trujillo said that she did not perceive any risk of radiation in the smoke from Los Alamos. Officials at the labs have insisted that all radioactive materials are safely stored and do not pose a threat. A spokesman from the lab could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to a Monday afternoon incident update on the fire, it had grown to nearly 44,000 acres and was 0 percent contained. The Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) were also closed to nonessential personnel Monday.
According to information from Los Alamos County, the evacuation of three areas was taking place Monday, with the groups being notified by “reverse 911.”
Group one includes Western, Quemazon and Ponderosa; group two includes North Community, Barranca Mesa and North Mesa; and group three includes East of Diamond and the rest of the town. Evacuees were urged not to go to White Rock in case that area is evacuated, as well.
Transportation is available for those who call (505) 661-7433. The Big Rock Santa Claran Event Center was opened as a shelter.
Campgrounds near the fire were evacuated Sunday (June 26).
Las Conchas fire started Sunday afternoon on private land near the Jemez Ranger District in the Santa Fe National Forest, about 3 miles south of Los Alamos. Structures and power lines were threatened, but according to the incident update, “all radioactive material is appropriately accounted for and protected.”
For more information and updates, call (505) 667-6622 or visit www.lanl.gov
Source: Taos News
Below: Los Alamos, Los Conchas Fire
Below: Jemez Mountains, recently taken
Below: South of Belen, taken Sunday, June 26, 2011