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Firefighters Continue Burn Outs on Las Conchas

SANTA FE, N.M. — Firefighters continue to do burn-out operations as they try to fully contain New Mexico’s largest wildfire.

The Las Conchas Fire now is 63 percent contained, but there’s still no timetable for full containment.

The blaze has charred almost 151,000 acres since being sparked June 26 by a tree falling on a power line.

More than five dozen homes were destroyed early on as the fire raced through the Cochiti Mesa and Peralta Canyon areas.

Fire officials say communities to the north and northwest of the burn out could continue to see heavy smoke from Saturday’s firefighter burn outs intended to control what’s left the live fire. Those communities include Ponderosa, Jemez Springs, Vallecitos de los Indios, Sierra de los Pinos, and La Cueva.

But officials say the presence of smoke doesn’t mean the fire has escaped or that communities are in danger.

The team handling the huge post-fire response to fight flooding over the crusted burn area reported that a watershed specialist who visited Santa Clara Canyon, upstream from Santa Clara Pueblo’s historic village, after rains late last week found 13 mudflows made up of mud, rocks and woody debris ,with six- to seven-foot mud marks on standing trees.

Culverts were over-topped and plugged, but not lost, the Burn Area Emergency Response Team said in an online report.

A crew stranded in the canyon Thursday “was very fortunate to not have been caught in one of the many flows,” the BAER Team reported.

The pueblo village has been shored up with sandbags and concrete barriers along Santa Clara Creek to help contain the post-fire floodwaters expected to come down from the canyon.

The BAER Team also said the Totavi Gas Station at San Ildefonso Pueblo is slated to have concrete barriers placed around it to redirect storm water flows.