Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A New Forest Fire Rages near Los Alamos in the Jemez Mountains~ Santa Fe National Forest

It is beginning to look like Armageddon out there! Our fire here in the local mountains (AKA the Pacheco fire) rages on, and now has surpassed 9,000 acres with only 10 % containment. The smoke plume reached all the way to Taos yesterday- 50 miles away! Due to the rugged terrain, extremely low humidity (4-8 % today) and gusty winds that still persist, the fire fighters have had a tough time of it. Per the NOOA weather website, we are experiencing "critical fire danger weather."  Yes, yes we are. This was apparent again when I left work this evening. A new fire has started in the Santa Fe National forest... this time in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos. Here's the eery scene I saw tonight as I headed home.

Smoke Plume from the Jemez Fire

Wide Angle to show the Extent

Photo taken from Zia Rd- looking north east toward "our" mountains... the smoke from the two fires appear to be merging...

Close up of the smoke/fire burning in the Jemez Mountains

Our beautiful skies filling with smoke...

Look closely to the left- that little dot is actually a rather large plane~ shows scale. Click to enlarge on any of these for greater detail.
This fire (the Las Conchas,) started this afternoon and is already at 1,000 acres with zero percent containment. It is burning toward Bandolier National Monument (which has been evacuated, as has Cochiti Mesa & Las Conchas.) Los Alamos has not been evacuated yet, and according to press releases,  " the fire has not entered LANL property and all radioactive material is appropriately accounted for and protected. " Well, sheesh, let's hope so!
I hear there is also a new fire burning today in the Bosque, down near Socorro. Presently, it seems as if much of the state is on fire. Your good thoughts & wishes are appreciated as we pray for rain.

***Monday, 6 a.m. Update~
this fire has been spreading quickly... reports are up to 6,000 acres already, and the Los Alamos National Lab has been shut down.  Ours skies here in Santa Fe are quite smokey, and ash is settling on the ground.

*** Monday 4:45 p.m. Update~
I believe the morning internet update was behind schedule. by 10:30 a.m., I was hearing reports of 43,000 acres burned. Now, only 28 hours after the fire started, the latest info is close to 50,000 acres burned.  The city of Los Alamos is now on Mandatory Evacuations. It's a ferocious fire & quite unsettling. I try not to worry about the Los Alamos National Lab burning & sending hazardous material into the air, but I would be lying if I said it were not crossing my mind. It is, quite a bit actually. I read conflicting reports on the internet about possible dangers of this. I'll keep ya posted.

***Wednesday 12:00 Update~
69,555 Acres burned. 12 homes lost. EPA involved in air testing for possible radiation contaminants. Reports are conflicting in regards to potential hazards~

"Our facilities & nuclear material are protected & safe," Laboratory Director Dr. Charles McMillan told ABC News. We have heard this repeatedly, but some how it is not comforting.      
Officials initially denied there was any above ground nuclear waste, now they are telling the public that there are barrels of waste (namely plutonium) above ground, but that they are "safe." Former top security official tells otherwise:

"It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste," former top security official Glen Walp said. "It's not contained within a concrete, brick-and-mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume."

"Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas," he added.

For updates on the Las Conchas fire or for any fire info, the inciweb is a good resource~ usually updated twice a day:

As for the threat of potential hazards of air quality/radiation... let's just hope they can keep this raging fire from burning at Los Alamos National Lab- particularly in the "sensitive areas."

*** Friday 8:00 p.m. Update:
Per infrared data, the Las Conchas Fire has burned 103,842 acres... making it the largest wildfire in the history of New Mexico...


Lisa RedWillow said...

Becky this is awful. I know what fire is like and how it spreads so fast.
Your photos are amazing. Stay safe.

Randy said...

Sad post. I could not bring myself to take any more photos of this depressing sight. I have never prayed so hard for anything before but I really hope it rains soon.

Doris Sturm said...

I'm sorry to hear that. That is so scary and sad. We've been having a lot of fires everywhere....we just recently had 3 burning here in South Georgia. They are out now, but all this smoke is making me cough, not to mention what it does to the land and the wildlife...very sad indeed!

Hope they'll extinguish them soon!

Wanda..... said...

How awful and I'm sure in reality, much worse than photos can convey. A blogging friend in Texas speaks of inch wide cracks in the ground from dryness, while here we've had an over abundance of rain the past 2 months. Hope things correct themselves soon.

Angela Recada said...

This is such a tragedy. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers, and hope for the best.

Pat said...

Wow...so sad. You stay safe my friend. I hate to see so many forests destroyed and so many people displaced. Hopefully the firefighters will get a handle on all these fires soon.

John Brisson said...

Becky...we went through this a few years ago here in our mountains. Very frightening. We were evacuated and out of Big Bear for amost an entire week. I will keep checking on you.

Ms. Becky said...

this is just heartbreaking. not only the forests lost, but the wildlife. I've been toying with the idea of an August visit to this, my adopted state, but I just don't know. I will continue to pray for rain and relief for you all, sending prayers on the wings of my heart. take good care Becky.

Anonymous said...

I will be thinking of everyone living near the fires, Becky. What a scary weather year we are having.

Hey, you ought to see that shot with plane to the Weather Channel, it is outstanding.

Dee said...

Overwhelming. Stay safe!

clairz said...

Horrible, just horrible. Pray for rain. Dance for rain. I dream of rain.

snowwhite said...

How awful and how sad・・・beautiful forests are being ruined, and habitats and wild lives also are being lost. Clouds look like unstoppable huge monsters. I pray rain falls very soon. Becky, stay safe.

Annie said...

Hey Becky, smoke is awful here too and this is beyond sad.
Yet they are selling fireworks here, what on earth are they thinking!
Taos is the only place around where there are no fires, but I don't know how long that will last.
There is plenty of smoke and ash though.

Barb said...

Oh, Becky - I've been thinking of you but have been off the computer for a couple weeks. We are under high fire danger in CO, too. The nuclear facility situation in NM is so frightening. I'm keeping you in my thoughts. I'm in Denver over the 4th - Bob's dad is arriving late tonight for a visit. It's raining hard here now and storms also predicted for the high country of CO. I pray for rain for you, too, and less wind. Are you staying inside to avoid breathing the smoke?

~Babs said...

Heartbreaking, as well as terrifying. Prayers from here too.