Las Conchas Fire

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Coordinates: 35°22′24″N 104°11′23″W / 35.373409°N 104.189697°W / 35.373409; -104.189697

Las Conchas Fire
Las Conchas Fire1.jpg
From Española, New Mexico, June 29, 2011
LocationNew Mexico
Date(s)June 26, 2011
1:00 pm (MDT)
Burned area156,293 acres,[1][dead link] 244 sq mi (630 km2)
CausePower line[2][dead link]
Buildings destroyed63 residences, 49 outbuildings[3][dead link]
Non-fatal injuries15[1]
From Placitas, New Mexico, July 6, 2011.

The Las Conchas Fire was a wildfire in New Mexico, USA, in 2011. The fire started in Santa Fe National Forest and burned more than 150,000 acres, threatening Los Alamos National Laboratory and the town of Los Alamos. After five days of burning, it became the largest wildfire in New Mexico state history at the time,[4][dead link]though it was surpassed the following year by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire.[5][dead link]


The fire started on June 26, 2011, at approximately 1:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time[3] when a tree fell on a power line.[2] On the first day, driven by strong and unpredictable winds, the fire burned 43,000 acres[6][7][8]—a rate of about an acre per second.[9]

By the evening of the first day of the fire, no part was contained, according to local fire officials, and the county was put under voluntary evacuation.[10] The fire burned over 61,000 acres by the end of the day on June 27,[6] pushed north by winds into the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. The fire also burned south, threatening the town of Cochiti, New Mexico.[11][dead link] On June 28, this estimate was increased to nearly 61,000 acres.[12] On June 29, it was reported that the fire was 3 percent contained, 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, and had burned nearly 70,000 acres (109 sq mi).[13] By then the fire had pushed farther north into the land owned and held sacred by Santa Clara Pueblo. 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 previous largest was the 2003 Dry Lakes Fire, which burned over 94,000 acres).[4] Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Los Alamos as of June 27,[14] and Los Alamos National Laboratory was closed to all non-essential personnel.[15][16] The evacuation order was lifted on July 3, at which time Los Alamos residents were allowed to return to their homes.[17] The Los Alamos National Laboratory re-opened on July 6.[18] As of July 14, 2011, the fire was 57% contained.[3]

On June 27, a one-acre spot fire burned on Los Alamos National Laboratory until firefighters extinguished it. Authorities reported that the fire did not threaten essential buildings. That was the only time the fire burned on lab property, as the fire then moved away.[19][20]

The fire was 100% contained on August 3 and efforts are now underway for recovery of the burned areas.[1]

Sixteen thousand acres of Santa Clara Pueblo burned in the fire, much of it in the pueblo's watershed. Forty-five percent of the watershed was burned, leading to fears of flooding. The pueblo responded by preparing for floods.[21] Currently, much of the burned area is still at risk for dangerous flash floods.[1]

Destructive flooding occurred in the burned region as the result of a monsoon rainstorm on August 21.[9][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Las Conchas Wildfire". Incident Information System. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Investigators determine cause of Las Conchas Fire". New Mexico Fire Information. July 3, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Las Conchas Wildfire". Incident Information System. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Sharpe, Magdalena; Pabst, Charlie (June 30, 2011). "The Las Conchas fire becomes the largest wildfire in state history". KOB. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  5. ^ "Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire now biggest ever in New Mexico". KOB. May 30, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Las Conchas Fire NM-N6S-0000451 Map". Incident Information System. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  7. ^ "Las Conchas wildfire at 3500+ acres; County under voluntary evacuation; Lab to be closed Monday – photos added". Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  8. ^ "3,500-acre Jemez blaze brings back memories of Cerro Grande". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "The Las Conchas Fire". U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "Fire Near Los Alamos Swells To 3,500 Acres". KOAT news. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  11. ^ Sharpe, Magdalena (June 27, 2011). "Los Conchas fire spreads to over 43,000 acres". KOB. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  12. ^ Flores, Danielle; Sharpe, Magdelena (June 28, 2011). "Las Conchas blaze grows close to 61,000 acres". KOB. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  13. ^ The Associated Press (June 29, 2011). "Massive Las Conchas blaze is 3% contained". KOB. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  14. ^ "MANDATORY Evacuations for Los Alamos". NM Fire Info. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  15. ^ "Wildfire triggers evacuation for Los Alamos lab". Reuters Africa. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  16. ^ Mack, Erik. "Wildfire closes Los Alamos National Laboratory". CNET. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Las Conchas wildfire at 43,000+ acres; Los Alamos under mandatory evacuation – photos added". Los Alamos Monitor. June 27, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  20. ^ Rushe, Dominic (June 28, 2011). "Wildfire reaches Los Alamos nuclear facility". The Guardian. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  21. ^ "Pueblo Needs Help, Prepares for Rain". KRQE. July 9, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  22. ^ Matlock, Staci (August 22, 2011). "Flooding tests preparation in Santa Fe, Las Conchas burn scar area". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved June 5, 2012.

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