Los Alamos Pulls Together to Fight Las Conchas Fire; Lab Still Safe

Correction appended

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez assured the public on Wednesday that all resources necessary to battle the Las Conchas Fire have been made available. The fire is currently burning close to Los Alamos.

The fire started Sunday and is three percent contained, spanning over 108 miles. It has consumed 69,555 acres so far, according to InciWeb, which tracks wildfires and other natural disasters. The 12,000 residents of Los Alamos have been evacuated. And so far, the Los Alamos National Laboratory – America’s premier nuclear weapons facility in New Mexico – has been kept safe.

One thousand firefighters are battling the blaze while New Mexico State Police and National Guardsmen help residents evacuate and protect their property – a process that is running smoothly, according to Alan Kirk, the former Los Alamos police chief and current municipal judge.

“We went through this with the Cerro Grande Fire back in 2000,” Kirk told The Christian Post Wednesday. He lives in nearby White Rock and can see intermittent smoke from his home, depending upon which way the wind blows.

“It moved through the town and did a lot of damage. So a lot of people have rehearsed and were prepared. It just seems like this fire has gone a lot smoother. And a lot more people understand the ramifications. It hasn’t been helter-skelter.”

Officials and relief organizations learned a lot from the fire 11 years ago too. Fires are now managed by specialists and the county has since created a 311 phone number residents can call for information.

Businesses are stepping up too. Kirk said many of the hotels and motels in cities out of harm’s way are offering evacuation rates.

And, of course, the Red Cross has set up shelters for evacuees.

Kirk, his wife Pat, and their daughter Erin have everything boxed up and are ready to go in case White Rock is evacuated – knowing that if the moment comes, his family could lose their home.

“It’s always painful,” Kirk said, referencing the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Cerro Grande Fire, “but I think you realize what the priorities are. You can always get started again as long as you don’t get hurt and your family members are safe.”

Safety was on Governor Martinez’s mind as well.

She said that in the last six months, there have been 803 fires reported in the state and they have burned 477,800 acres. She asked the public to stay clear of those areas. She also asked the public to refrain from purchasing and using fireworks this holiday weekend.

Correction: Wednesday, June 29, 2011:

An article on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, about the Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico incorrectly reported that the fire had consumed 108 acres so far. The Las Conchas fire spans over 108 miles and has consumed over 69,000 acres.

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