Los Alamos Fire & Evacuation

July 4, 2011 by staff 

Los Alamos Fire & EvacuationLos Alamos Fire & Evacuation, Honking and waving to the firefighters, the residents of a New Mexico town threatened by a massive wildfire in Los Alamos undo nearly a week after the flames forced the evacuation and closure of a major nuclear weapons laboratory nearby.

Summer rains gave a boost to firefighters battling the flames and gave the authorities the confidence to allow the 12,000 residents Sunday to return home.

“Thanks Thanks Thanks!” cried Amy Riehl, assistant manager of the grocery store of Smith, who came to help keep the store open for returning residents.

“It’s scary, but all the resources here at this time, they were ready. They did a great job,” said Michael Shields, his watery eyes until she returned to her apartment in the city center.

The fire broke out June 26 when a tree fell on power lines, authorities announced Sunday. Driven by an exceptionally dry season in the Southwest and erratic winds, the fire has grown to 189 square kilometers. It was 19 percent contained as of Sunday night.

Despite the threat to the community and the Los Alamos National Laboratory has dropped, the sites of forest fires threatened remains considered sacred by American Indian tribes.

The fire, the largest in New Mexico, came to the Santa Clara Pueblo basin in the canyon last week, damaging the area that the tribe considers its birthplace, burning 20 square miles of tribal forest.

The fire chief operations Jerome Macdonald said he was a few miles from the cliff dwellings of Puye centuries old, a national historic landmark.

Hundreds of firefighters are working to contain the fire burning through a canyon in the Santa Clara and has caused concern about other people of the Pajarito Plateau.

The tribes were concerned that the cabins, villages and watersheds could be destroyed.

Alamos residents fled en masse last week as fast-moving fire approached the city and the nation’s leading nuclear research laboratory, located northwest of Santa Fe

Past the town was evacuated because of a devastating fire in 2000 destroyed 200 homes and several businesses and damaged utilities and other companies in the county.

This time the residents returned to a town that is completely intact, although the fire burned 63 houses west of the city along with 37 units and other structures.

“We are confident that we will be able to keep the fire of the community,” said Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker. “We’ve done so far, and we’ll keep doing it.”

He added that it is a bittersweet moment because of all residents in the surrounding areas who lost their homes

Many laboratory employees returned to prepare the operations and thousands of experiments of scientists and technicians were forced to evacuate. Among the jobs waiting two supercomputers are experiments and studies on extending the life of pumps the 1960 nuclear.

Storms of rain that fell on Sunday also brought the wind made the fire burn more aggressively in some areas, but pushed the 121.000-acre fire on himself in the north, said Brad Pitassi, a spokesman for the order to fire.

The fire remained at Los Alamos Canyon, passing through the Manhattan Project site old and a 1940-era dumping ground of low-level radioactive waste and the site of a nuclear reactor, which was demolished in 2003.

For Leo and Lorene Beckstead, your first stop in the city was the grocery store as they prepared to heed the request of officials that residents stay at home while the teams worked in the fire area of?? The city on three sides.

“They did a great job. I think because of the Cerro Grande fire, they learned a lot,” said Leo Beckstead, referring to the flames in 2000.

Other residents came and went as soon as he got home.

“Many of them are coming in, checking their homes and then let the smoke is so bad,” said Tucker. “They’re turning around and leave Los Alamos.”

High humidity pushed the smoke down into the city and kept close to the ground, said Tucker.

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