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Bandelier National Monument Closed by Rapidly Spreading Wildfire


This photo of an earlier prescribed burn in Frijoles Canyon illustrates the rugged terrain in the area. NPS photo by Sally King

A rapidly spreading wildfire in northern New Mexico has forced the evacuation and closure of Bandelier National Monument. The fire began Sunday afternoon on private land near the Santa Fe National Forest about a dozen miles south of Los Alamos.  

Dubbed the Las Conchas Fire, the blaze had already burned over 3,500 acres by Sunday evening, and fire officials reported that it had spread into Frijoles Canyon within the park. The fire burned actively all day to the north/northeast, and running, crowning, and spotting up to a half a mile in advance of the head of the fire was observed. Red flag conditions (hot temperatures, low humidity, high winds) contributed to intense fire behavior and rapid fire growth.

Residents living within Cochiti Mesa and Las Conchas were also evacuated, along with campers in nearby Forest Service campgrounds. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for the towns of White Rock and Los Alamos.

As of this morning, three helicopters, two Hotshot crews, nine hand crews, five dozers and thirteen engines were assigned to the fire and more resources have been requested. Work on the fire is being managed by an Interagency Team.

Officials report that power and phone lines are down in the area, and there is concern for facilities in the area near the park. By mid-morning on Monday the fire was approximately one mile southwest of the boundary of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has also been closed. According to information from the fire management team, "the fire has not entered Laboratory property at this time. All radioactive material is appropriately accounted for and protected."

A smoke plume emitting black and grey smoke was visible Sunday from Jemez Springs, Sante Fe and as far as Albuquerque.

Given the recent problems with other fires in New Mexico and Arizona, officials at all levels are taking this one very seriously. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez visited the Los Alamos National Laboratory Emergency Operations Center just before midnight on Sunday and has ordered the New Mexico National Guard to Los Alamos "to provide support for the ongoing efforts to protect lives, property and critical infrastructure threatened by the Las Conchas fire."

Governor Martinez has "directed state agencies to provide support for local emergency managers, firefighters, and other personnel in Sandoval County, Los Alamos County and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory."

"My administration will make every effort to provide support for the local emergency response crews. With evacuations in place and the fire burning quickly, it is important that residents in the surrounding communities remain attentive to the local emergency operations' alerts and orders," Martinez said. "Our top priority is the safety of the people of our communities and property. I'm grateful to the state and local crews who are working so hard to keep damage to a minimum."

The staff at Bandlier had already taken preventive measures "to ensure public safety in a summer of unprecedented dry conditions in which fire behavior has already demonstrated itself to be extremely severe." Beginning last Friday, the majority of the park had been closed, with only the visitor center, picnic area, Main Loop Trail, Juniper Campground, and the trail area of theTsankawi section remaining open.  Those efforts came to naught when the current fire spread into the park from outside the boundary.

Information on the park website notes "the fire behavior is extreme and poses a danger to the park. The park will be closed until conditions are safe. The park website won't be updated again until the park reopens." Information posted by the fire management team this morning predicted the park would be closed for at least three days.


Les and Jill -

Thanks for the link with the update from the park.

Les & Jill (not verified) Bandelier National Monument's facepage has been and is up to date on what is happening..

Really  people!
Have you nothing more to do?
Wanted to check in on the status of that wonderful park...found ALL of your B.S.!!!
Enough I say. Put out the fires and move on!

As someone living in MA who has a personal involvement in Bandelier NM and the surrounding area, we have been seeking news on the status of the Las Conchas fire and the affect it has had on the park.  However, most national news reports focus on Los Alamos and its facilities.  While this is understandable, we have frustrated in our attempts to search for information as to how the fire has impacted the park and Frijoles Canyon.  Has it destroyed or damaged any of the park structures or the earliest American cultural sites?  Does anyone have any first-hand information or links to current reports on the situation?  We welcome any suggestions or recommendations and thank you for your time and cooperation.
The Taylors 

In response to "Does it Matter?", here is a link to a chapter from one study specifically on western fires:

Boy, has Rush Limbaugh gotten into some heads or what.  Jim you have to be shaking your head about how far afield we've gone here.  It's been interesting  on many points, lol!I've, in the past, tried to find something constant and provable to the extreme and I've come to the end of that road finding but one constant.  I had the pleasure of having a gentleman nd his family accompany me into the Canyon that was project lead on a deep space launch to gather information on the Big Bang (September of '08 I believe).  Very cool for me to see him likewise in awe of the Canyon and it's presence as the revealing and almost unimaginable world of the stars.  He did not at all present the image of someone trying to prove something to validate himself.  Awesome experience for me to be around such people :).

Learn more about Climate Change Debate:

The global atmospheric CO2 data during the past century plus has been increasing: never before
in Earth's History have there been over 7 billion Humans burning fossil fuels (exponential increase
of human populations growing globally); we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas; we know alpine mountain
glaciers and polar ice have all been retreating: Warmer global climate equals melting ice over the
past 160 years (since the last Little Ice Age ca. 1850  western N. America).
Question: Is this warmer air arising indirectly from burning
fossil fuels globally or from Hate Speech proponents like Rush Limbaugh who makes millions of
dollars promoting heated misinformation ?  Oh, this says something about the sponsors of Limbaugh too !

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