LAFD Acting Deputy Chief Ben Stone refers to a map of the Cerro Pelado Fire during his May 10 presentation to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos at Cottonwood on the Greens. Photo by Linda Hull
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
Ben Stone, Acting Deputy Chief for the Los Alamos Fire Department, graciously took time from his hurried schedule to speak with Rotarians on May 10, just as the Cerro Pelado Fire reached approximately 75% containment after burning more than 45,000 acres of woodland in the Jemez Mountains southwest of Los Alamos.
During his presentation, Stone displayed a current map of the fire and explained the alphabetic designation of the fire zones as referenced in the operations and in news reports, as well as the map legend and symbols. He also described the types of fuels encountered and the rugged topography that hindered firefighters’ efforts in particular. Erratic high winds, sometimes gusting to 80 mph, significantly increased the spread of the fire and its danger to personnel and structures whether by toppling dead trees or sending embers long distances, sparking spot fires. Heavy smoke obscured firefighters’ vision as they worked on shifts around the clock. As many as 1200 firefighters were deployed to the fire as it raged through thousands of acres near the Valles Caldera.
Stone’s presentation confirmed how dedicated the fire management teams, firefighters, meteorologists, fire scientists, and representatives from local, state, federal, and Pueblo governments were in their efforts to extinguish the fire while building trust in crisis among so many partners.
In closing, Stone urged everyone to “adhere to the fire restrictions imposed” and “follow the steps in Ready-Set-Go.” Those include maintaining defensible space around your property and preparing a Wildfire Action Plan for your family and pets. “Most of all, be ready to evacuate before you have to!”
For more information on wildland fire preparedness, please go to https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/sfd/fire-prevention-programs/ready-set-go-new-mexico/
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course. A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950. Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.