US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District

New Mexico’s Worst Wildfire Contained by Collaboration

By PAO
Public Affairs
Published Aug. 1, 2011

The USDA Forest Service reported Aug. 1 that, after 36 long days, firefighters fully contained the Las Conchas Fire, the largest wildland fire in New Mexico’s recorded history.

Ignited on June 26, the Las Conchas Fire burned more than 156,500 acres, primarily in the Santa Fe National Forest and parts of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Bandelier National Monument, Pueblos of Jemez, Santa Clara, Cochiti and Santo Domingo, and private lands. Numerous communities were threatened during the incident.

“It’s been a tough six weeks,” said Maria T. Garcia, Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor. “The successful containment of the Las Conchas Fire is the result of the tremendous involvement and coordination of many people, from many agencies and jurisdictions.”

Four National Incident Management Teams coordinated thousands of firefighters and numerous helicopters, engines, tenders and dozers to bring the wildfire under containment. Many of these firefighters lived and staged their equipment at the District’s Cochiti Lake Project.

“The greatest outcome is no member of the public or any emergency responders were seriously injured during the fire suppression efforts,” Garcia said. “That’s attributable to good coordination, training and experience.” 

The focus now shifts to stabilizing the land and resource impacts within the burned area. Natural resource experts have already assessed the Las Conchas Fire area and identified treatments that will stabilize soils and re-establish plant cover by seeding and mulching certain parts of the burned area. In addition, repairs to roads, culverts and drainage channels will also be applied to protect life, property and things of value downstream that may be at risk from flooding and debris flow.

Forest Service officials said the fire created  significant safety hazards for anyone entering the burned area, including threats from flash flooding, falling trees and rolling rocks. They are currently assessing hazards that would potentially affect the public using Forest System roads that access private land within the burned area. For additional information on closures and planned treatments, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe/ or Inciweb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2406/