Subj: FW: The Los Alamos Cerro Grande Fire Wildfire Escapes Boundary.
Date: 5/26/00 7:06:36 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Subject: The Los Alamos Cerro Grande Fire Wildfire Escapes Boundary.
ABQjournal: Wildfire Escapes Boundary
Friday, May 26, 2000
Wildfire Escapes Boundary

By Dale Lezon
Journal Staff Writer
SANTA FE — The Cerro Grande Fire, a nearly 48,000-acre wildfire that
appeared to be nearly out, erupted again Thursday and was burning toward the
west, according to fire officials.
The National Weather Service said high winds and a "red-flag warning" of
dangerous fire conditions are forecast for the Los Alamos area today and fire
officials worry the fire may continue to move, said Debbie Santiago, fire
information officer.
"The possibility of erratic fire behavior exists," Santiago said.
No homes or other structures were in danger with the new burn area in
Santa Fe National Forest, Santiago said late Thursday night.
The National Weather Service predicted thunderstorms and possible
lightning strikes in the Los Alamos area today with northwest winds 15 to 25
Extremely high winds are predicted for about 4 p.m., usually a period
considered to carry high fire danger, Santiago added.
The fire, which has burned for 22 days and destroyed the homes of more
than 400 Los Alamos families, was 100 percent contained late Wednesday and
fire officials expected it to be out by Sunday.
But driven by high winds Thursday, the fire "slopped over," or escaped, a
containment line on the west side of the blaze and it had burned at least
five more acres in rugged, steep Guaje Canyon, Santiago said.
"The slop-over are small spot fires in a small area," Santiago said.
There were still almost 700 firefighters at work against the blaze, she
Late Thursday night, fire officials said the fire was only 97 percent
contained. The fire won't be completely out before July 9, they predicted.
"We had very high winds," said Santiago, speaking from fire command
center in Española. "Lightning was bounding all around us so you can imagine
what it was like on the mountain (in the fire area)."
Hot shot crews worked Thursday to build a fire break — an at least
5-foot-wide swath cleared of forest debris, trees and other plants — around
the slop-over, Santiago added.
The fire began May 4 as a prescribed burn in Bandelier National Monument.
High winds fanned the blaze May 5 into a wildfire. On May 10, the fire swept
through Los Alamos' northern and western communities, forcing the town to
evacuate and destroying 235 residential structures — single-family homes,
duplexes and others.
The fire also burned into Santa Clara Canyon on the Santa Clara Pueblo
and within 100 yards of the pueblo's Puyé cliffs, ancient Native American
cliff dwellings.
Sacred areas on the San Ildefonso Pueblo were burned as well.
The blaze burned about 9,000 acres on Los Alamos National Laboratory,
including areas where plutonium and high explosives are stored in concrete
and steel bunkers.
The plutonium and explosives were not damaged in the fire, lab officials
have said.
The blaze has cost $12.8 million to fight so far.