The Las Conchas Wildfire started in 2011 in the Santa Fe National Forest and burned more than 150,000 acres, threatening Los Alamos National Laboratories and the town of Los Alamos. After five days of burning, it became the largest wildfire in New Mexico state history at the time. The fire started on June 26, 2011, at approximately 1:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time when a tree fell on a power line. On the first day, driven by strong and unpredictable winds, the fire burned 43,000 acres—a rate of about an acre per second.
By the evening of the first day, no part of the fire was contained and the county was put under voluntary evacuation. The fire burned over 61,000 acres by the end of the day on June 27, The fire also burned south, threatening the town of Cochiti Lake. On June 29, it was reported that the fire was 3 percent contained, 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, and had burned nearly 70,000 acres (109 sq mi). By then the fire had pushed farther north into the land owned and held sacred by Santa Clara Pueblo. By June 30, the burned area had increased to over 103,000 acres (161 sq mi), making it the largest fire in New Mexico history.
The fire was 100% contained on August 3 and efforts are still ongoing for recovery of the burned areas.
Sixteen thousand acres of Santa Clara Pueblo burned in the fire, much of it in the pueblo's watershed. Forty-five percent of the watershed was burned, leading to fears of flooding. The Pueblo responded by preparing for floods. Destructive flooding occurred in the burned region as the result of a monsoon rainstorm on August 21. Currently, much of the burned area is still at risk for dangerous flash floods.
The debris flows analysis and report was prepared by Kane Geotech (available upon request). Several mountain canyons were identified as serious risks for probable debris flows due to the Las Conchas wildfire. It was determined that debris flow barriers would provide the most cost-effective protection for the Santa Clara watershed and tribal land.
Geobrugg supplied (4) flexible debris flow barriers for the project.
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