Cerro Pelado fire Monday (May 16) update: Fire 62% contained; stage 3 fire restrictions to remain in place to prevent new fires

May 16, 2022

A news release from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office and the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office

Fire crews continued their progress fighting the Cerro Pelado fire in the Jemez Mountains Sunday night. As of Monday morning, the fire was 62% contained – a gain of 22 percentage points from the day before – and had burned just two more acres to 45,605, once again the smallest growth since the fire started.

See the most recent fire map here.

The Laboratory and Los Alamos County remain in the “set” stage of “ready, set, go” but expect to decide soon whether to change the status back to “ready” based on current conditions. The Laboratory, including Triad and N3B, will remain on Maximum Telework until the status is changed to “ready.”

Also because of completed wildfire mitigation work, a portion of N.M. 4 has been reopened from mile post 61 to the Laboratory’s “back gate.”

Winds aren’t expected to resume red flag (high wind) conditions until late this week, Los Alamos Fire Department Chief Troy Hughes said. “We’re watching the weather, which will challenge the containment lines,” he said, “but we are feeling good right now.”

The Great Basin Team 1 and community representatives will brief the community on the Cerro Pelado fire at 5:30 p.m. May 16 at Los Alamos High School’s Griffith Gym. The public is welcome to attend in person or virtually through Zoom.

Emergency officials also reminded the public that drones are strictly forbidden in the fire zone. Drones pose a serious safety hazard for the firefighting planes and helicopters and could cause a deadly accident. Because of the risk of accident, firefighting aircraft cannot fly if drones are in the area.

Stage 3 fire restrictions to continue to prevent new fires

While several days of calmer winds are helping firefighters contain the Cerro Pelado fire, conditions are still dry and hot, meaning fire danger is extremely high. Laboratory and Los Alamos County fire officials are concerned about the threat of new fires starting. They underscored that public safety is the top priority, and residents and employees should exercise extreme caution. Stage 3 fire restrictions will remain in place in the County and for the Lab as long as necessary – even after the Cerro Pelado fire is completely contained.

Los Alamos residents should report any violations of stage 3 fire restrictions to the Los Alamos Consolidated Dispatch Center at (505) 662-8222 or in the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1. This will ensure any incident is properly investigated or addressed by fire officials and police.

Violations of stage 3 restrictions on Lab property will be cause for disciplinary action. Employees should report irresponsible or dangerous fire behavior – such as throwing lit cigarettes onto the ground – to (505) 667-2400.

Information and resources are available on the Laboratory’s webpage and Los Alamos County’s webpage. Air quality updates can be found on the Laboratory’s air quality monitoring website and on AirNow. For fire-specific questions, please contact the Great Basin Team 1 by phone at (505) 312-4593, (303) 918-4004 or email at 2022.CerroPelado@firenet.gov.

Be sure to rely on official sources for the latest information on the Cerro Pelado fire, such as:

Photos available for public use