UPDATE - 11:40 a.m.: Given that winds are currently lighter than expected, helicopters have started bucket drops of water on the fire. Local wind conditions will determine if firefighting aircraft can continue to provide support.
As of 9:45 a.m. MDT on April 23, the Cerro Pelado fire currently burning in the Jemez Mountains is still not an immediate threat to Los Alamos County or Los Alamos National Laboratory. Cooler temperatures, higher-than-normal humidity and lighter winds overnight appear to have slowed the fire’s spread.
Although the conditions have improved, a red flag warning is still in effect today from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., which means firefighting aircraft cannot fly, and winds in the afternoon are expected to gust up to 55 mph, so continued vigilance is critical.
Currently, the fire is 10-11 miles from the Laboratory’s southwestern boundary. Thirty-nine personnel are on scene, including 10 LAFD firefighters to protect the structures and homes in area. Residents in the area were evacuated last night. New Mexico State Road 4 at mile markers 30 and 50 (where it intersects with West Jemez, or the “back gate”) continues to be closed.
The Laboratory, County and NNSA Field Office are monitoring the fire as a unified response and will continue to provide updates. Emergency operations managers from Los Alamos and Sandoval counties are drawing on the technical expertise of the Laboratory, as well as that of the County Fire Department.
Los Alamos County residents are encouraged to think about their evacuation and emergency planning. “April is our windiest month, and given drought conditions, wildland fires are always a risk,” said Los Alamos County Fire Chief Troy Hughes. “It’s a good idea to be prepared.”
Resources for emergency preparedness are available on the County website: https://lacnm.com/EmergencyPrepared