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A fire as big as ...

By Elise Kaplan, fearless intern [ Thu Jun 30 2011 3:52 PM ]
Las Conchas fire
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Las Conchas fire

Maybe it's just me, but acres don't mean a whole lot to me. Numbers and statistics fly over my head, and what I really want is for someone to say “that means HUGE.”

The Las Conchas fire, 12 miles south of Los Alamos, is HUGE. Almost twice as HUGE as the Cerro Grande fire in 2000. It's grasping at the coattails of the 2003 Gila National Forest fire to become the HUGEST fire in New Mexico history.

HUGE adds up to 92,735 acres of wildfire.

One acre is roughly the size of a football field, including both end zones. There are 640 acres in a square mile. The Las Conchas fire covers at least 145 square miles. Albuquerque is only 181 square miles.

Winds can reach 40 mph. That's faster than you can drive on Central with a cop watching.

The firefighters have the area 3 percent contained. “Contained” in firefighter-speak means they've cleared areas ahead of the fire, hoping it will run out of fuel and burn itself out. Three percent is the sip of beer you leave at the bottom of your pint glass when you slide it across the bar for a refill.

Evacuations cleared out Los Alamos and surrounding areas. Thirteen homes have fallen prey to flames, and three more were damaged. Although a small football-field-size fire broke out at Los Alamos National Laboratory it was quickly extinguished without causing any damage.