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Last updated 7:54AM ET
August 18, 2018
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1 p.m. Las Conchas fire update (Listen)
Las Conchas Fire -- June 28 National Forest Service
(KSFR) -
June 28, 1 p.m. -- KSFR's Charles Maynard reports from Los Alamos that power is still on to businesses and residences, even though most of the city's population of 18,000 have evacuated. The police chief says the town is secure, and there are patrols of police and national guard troops. The fire chief says the fire continues to burn toward the city. He says much fuel remains available and, if it catches, the fire could grow larger - perhaps to 100,000 acres. It is already larger than the Cerro Grande fire of 2000. Los Alamos lab officials say there are no fires on lab property. They still insist nuclear materials are safe and that there has been no release into the air. Mail for Los Alamos residents is being delivered to the Pojoaque Valley High School. People bringing identification may pick up the mail from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, beginning now.

June 28, 10 a.m. -- June 28 ,10 a.m. UPDATE - Los Alamos lab officials are now confirming that tens of thousands of 55-gallon drums containing radioactive waste are stored in the open, near the site of the fire. KSFR had earlier spoken with two watchdog groups who characterized the number as 30,000. The groups say the drums are essentially out in the open, covered by fabric. Lab officials initially wouldn't confirm the reports but this morning told the Associated Press the drums are in fact there, awaiting shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. They say the drums are on a paved area with few trees nearby and would be safe even if a fire reached the storage area. Officials have said it is miles from the flames. Watchdog groups put the distance at about three miles.

June 28, 7 a.m. -- KSFR is awaiting the latest report on growth of the Las Conchas Fire at Los Alamos, estimated last night at 50,000 acres. The fire is known to have reached the Pajarito Ski Area where KSFR's transmission tower is located. Our radio signal is off-the-air at present. We will continue to provide news and programming via live webstream from the KSFR dot org website.

The morning dawns with thousands of Los Alamos residents displaced by Monday afternoon's mandatory evacuation orders. Evacuees were being given shelter at the Santa Claran Conference Center in Espanola. Santa Fe's Indian Schools opened their Abeyta Gymnasium for additional shelter space. Poajoaque's Cities of Gold casino will also take in evacuees. Patients who were moved from Sombrillo and Aspen Ridge assistance facilities are safely sheltered in nursing homes in Santa Fe. Los Alamos County authorities conducted an orderly evacuation order of residents using a reverse 9-1-1 phone notification system. The public is said to have been cooperative and orderly with less than 10% of residents refusing to leave. Of those, law enforcement have noted their location and will make further contact if the fire approaches their home. So far, the nearby community of White Rock has not been ordered to evacuate.

All Los Alamos County offices are closed today for normal business and will be focused only on fire management and public safety issues. The Los Alamos National laboratory is closed for a second day. There, teams from the National Nuclear Security Administration's Radiological Assistance Program are scheduled to arrive this morning to assess the status of actual or perceived nuclear and radiological hazards. Lab spokespersons have been assuring the public that all such lab materials are appropriately accounted for and secure. A brief and small fire transgressed one of the Lab's technical areas Monday afternoon near Bandelier National Monument along Highway 4 and was quickly extinguished.

Meanwhile, the Pacheco Fire just north of Santa Fe is said to be 15% contained after having charred some 10,000 acres.

Weather conditions today will be more favorable for fire suppression efforts as relative humidity values are expected to be higher with a 10% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon through evening. However, any storms will carry little moisture and pose a risk from dry lightning and strong downburst winds that could approach 50 miles per hour. Otherwise, prevailing winds are expected to be 10- to-20 miles per hour from the south, shifting to the east toward evening. Highs near 93 degrees.
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