Wildfire Today posted more information about the Las Conchas fire on June 29.
Update at 5:40 p.m. MT, June 27, 2011: Replaced one of the maps generated by MODIS (the “overview” map) that had an error, showing the fire perimeter too far to the east.
Update at 3:20 p.m. MT, June 27, 2011:
We added more current, easier to see maps and links to live cameras:
More maps and information are below.
Here are some links to live cameras in the area:
- Los Alamos County, Los Alamos, NM. Click on “Camera Animation”
- Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM . Click on “Camera Animation”
- New Mexico traffic cams. These cams are pretty far away and may or may not show much smoke. Click on “Cameras and Message Signs”, then “Statewide Cameras”, then zoom in and hover over the cam icons on I-25 southwest of Santa Fe.
Update at 3:00 p.m. MT, June 27, 2011:
InciWeb reports that the city of Los Alamos is under MANDATORY evacuation as of 1:45 pm. White Rock remains under VOLUNTARY evacuation. Cochiti Mesa, Las Conchas, Bandelier National Monument, and campgrounds near the fire were evacuated yesterday.
Updated at 12:39 p.m. MT, June 27, 2011:
A reporter for KSFR public radio in Santa Fe just left a press conference where a fire chief said at least 30 structures have burned in the Las Conchas fire, which is probably a low estimate since the survey was done from the air and smoke made a complete damage estimate impossible, he said. Strong winds have grounded aerial firefighting resources such as air tankers and helicopters.
Weather conditions recorded at the Tower RAWS weather station show that during much of the time since the fire started, strong winds have been pushing the fire, but from variable directions. From the time the fire started at 1:00 p.m. on June 26 until 7:21 p.m., the wind was gusting from 30 to 41 mph from the southeast, southwest, west, and northwest, while the relative humidity was in the single digits.
The weather forecast for Los Alamos predicts the wind through Tuesday afternoon will be from the southeast, then switching from the southwest at 11-18 mph with minimum humidities in the lower teens. This could encourage the fire to move closer to Los Alamos.
The video below is a time-lapse of the Las Conchas fire shot by Michael Zeiler on June 26, the day it started, from a vantage point just north of Santa Fe, the home of Polly White & Michael Zeiler. Los Alamos city and labs can be seen to the right of the fire.
Updated at 11:56 a.m. June 27, 2011: added an official map (scroll down to see it) and the photo below.
Updated at 10:27 a.m. MT, June 27, 2011. Included map showing the approximate location of the Cerro Grande fire in relation to the new Las Conchas fire.
A new fire, the Las Conchas fire, that started on private land southwest of Los Alamos and northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico burned over 43,000 acres from it’s 1:00 p.m. Sunday start until it was mapped by an infrared flight at 3:00 a.m. on Monday. On Sunday the fire, according to New Mexico Fire Information:
…burned actively all day to the north/northeast. Running, crowning and spotting up to a half a mile [ahead] of the head of the fire was observed.
Yesterday firefighters were actively backfiring along Highway 4 between the fire and the city of Los Alamos. As you can see by the map of the fire, as of late Sunday night the fire was approximately 3 miles from the city. It is also less than a mile from the boundary of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the nuclear bomb and still a location for research on radioactive materials.
One fact working in favor of the firefighters is the footprint of the Cerro Grande fire that burned from Bandelier National Monument into Los Alamos. That fire, which is between the Las Conchas fire and Los Alamos, started from an escaped prescribed fire in the National Monument and on May 10, 2000 moved into Los Alamos and ultimately destroyed over 280 homes and burned 47,000 acres. Less vegetation, or fuel, is available in the old Cerro Grande fire and so far the firefighters have had some success keeping the fire from crossing Highway 4 into the previously burned area, but it has crossed in some places.
According to InciWeb, Cochiti Mesa, Las Conchas, Bandelier National Monument, and campgrounds near the fire were evacuated yesterday.
Even at 3:00 a.m., when most self-respecting fires take a break and lay down for the night, the Las Conchas fire was still burning so hot very early Monday morning that the convection column of smoke and hot gasses made it very difficult for the infrared aircraft, N149Z, a King Air 200, to fly over the fire to collect the imagery. Normally the aircraft will fly nice, neat, orderly parallel flight lines spaced equidistantly, as you can see from the flight tracks of infrared missions we posted in 2008. Last night they flew six flight lines, most of them in different directions, but they successfully mapped the entire fire.
The map below from FlightAware shows the mission of N149Z from the time it took off at Albuquerque (KABQ) at 2:33 a.m. until it landed at Pueblo (KPUB) at 4:32 a.m Monday. I believe the green and dark blue patch near the confused-looking flight lines is the smoke and convection from the fire that was picked up by radar.
We will update this article as additional information becomes available.
UPDATE: below is an official map made by the U.S. Forest Service as a result of the infrared flight at 3:09 a.m. June 27, 2011, which mapped heat detected by sensors on N149Z, a fixed wing aircraft. Click on it to enlarge.