Las Conchas Fire
|Las Conchas Fire|
From Española, New Mexico, June 29, 2011
|Date(s)||June 26, 2011
1:00 pm (MDT)
|Burned area||156,293 acres, 244 sq mi (630 km2)|
|63 residences, 49 outbuildings|
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, though it was surpassed the following year by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire.
The fire started on June 26, 2011, at approximately 1:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time when a tree fell on a power line. On the first day, driven by strong and unpredictable winds, the fire burned 43,000 acres—a rate of about an acre per second.
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. The fire burned over 61,000 acres by the end of the day on June 27, pushed north by winds into the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. The fire also burned south, threatening the town of Cochiti, New Mexico. On June 28, this estimate was increased to nearly 61,000 acres. 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). 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). 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.
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.
The fire was 100% contained on August 3 and efforts are now underway for recovery of the burned areas.
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. Currently, much of the burned area is still at risk for dangerous flash floods.
- 2000 Cerro Grande Fire
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- 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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