Updated: Tuesday, 28 Jun 2011, 8:08 AM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 28 Jun 2011, 7:59 AM MDT
LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO (KRQE) - Fire crews continue to battle the approximately 60,000 acre Las Conchas wildfire as it approaches the Los Alamos Ski Hill area.
Water tanks throughout the town site are at full volume according to Los Alamos Dept. of Public Utilities officials.
“We’ve greatly improved the fire fighting capability of the water distribution system since the Cerro Grande fire of 2000, with improved storage capacity and hydraulics” said Utility Manager John Arrowsmith. “The Arizona water tank, built after the Cerro Grande Fire, with 8 million gallons of capacity is key for fire protection.”
At the 6 a.m. Emergency Operations Center briefing today, on-the-ground reports from firefighters described spotting fires in the Pajarito Mountain vicinity.
Officials reported, “There is fire across the Ski Hill, a slowly creeping fire across the top of Pajarito Canyon, rimming fire near camp May, and fire on Pipeline Road. The Ski Lodge can be saved and that’s why we’re there now, preparing the buildings….We are confident that we can protect structures because of the strike teams we have in place.”
Most of the residents of the Los Alamos townsite evacuated Monday under a mandatory evacuation order with an orderly flow leaving the community. Homes in “at risk” areas are being watered down by the Fire Dept. Continued notification to residents to evacuate is occurring via print and broadcast media, as well as individual home visits from law enforcement officials who make note of their location and contact information for follow up, should the fire spread to their location.
“Those who elect to stay at the Los Alamos townsite place themselves at risk. However, the safety of emergency responders who might be called on to rescue those who have not departed, is also affected,” said Deputy Police Chief Kevin Purtymun.
It is estimated that a very small number of residents have elected to stay.
Police are patrolling to ensure the safety of any remaining residents. No casualties have been reported in this rapidly evolving event, according to officials at the Emergency Operations Center.
Los Alamos County’s 311 Customer Care Center is open today from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. to assist and inform residents, county staff, emergency responders and others with safe evacuation and shelter information, as well as other community and infrastructure functions.
NM 502 westbound into Los Alamos is now closed to all motorists. Access is controlled and limited to official traffic until further notification.
The Cities of Gold hotel in Pojoaque offers shelter services for evacuating residents of the Los Alamos townsite. Cities of Gold also accepts pets. Many residents remain in White Rock following voluntary evacuations which began Sunday. Los Alamos townsite evacuees are advised against sheltering in White Rock, although White Rock is not at risk.
A Joint Information Center is operational for media inquiries about the fire. Members of the public are encouraged to tune in to Radio 1610, visit nmfireinfo.wordpress.com or www.inciweb.org/incident/2385/ for fire-specific updates, and to contact the 311 Customer Care Center at 311 from land lines or 662-8333 from cell phones or visit www.losalamosnm.us for community information.