Memories of Cerro Grande Fire still fresh as city marks 20 years since fire | KOB 4

Memories of Cerro Grande Fire still fresh as city marks 20 years since fire

Kai Porter
Updated: May 11, 2020 05:22 PM
Created: May 11, 2020 03:30 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Los Alamos marked 20 years since the Cerro Grande Fire tore through the city.

"We still look back and see the more the good of our community coming together than the destruction that came out of the fire," said James Robinson, Los Alamos County Councilor.


The Cerro Grande Fire started as a prescribed burn which grew out of control. The city was evacuated before 43,000 burned and destroyed 235 homes.

Robinson grew up in Los Alamos, and was attending school in the city at the time of the fire.

"Needless to say, the evacuation hit my family really hard because my parents both grew up here," he said. "They were born and raised in White Rock."

Robinson said the Cerro Grande fire resulted in a number of important changes.

“After the Cerro Grande, all the firefighting entities realized that you can’t fight a fire by committee. So now, instead of ‘well that’s on national forest land, we’re not going to worry about that, that’s up to them to fight.’ Now, we see that it’s a regional fight to have.”

Robinson said the lessons learned from the Cerro Grande Fire prepared him, and others who experienced it, to handle the coronavirus crisis.

“I think the best lesson that we learned is listen to the authorities," he said. "Los Alamos, in the town, it’s in is used to listening to those who have the information and going off of their recommendations. So when the governor said it’s time to stay at home, we’ve been really good about staying at home”

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