“When I left Los Alamos … I had seven people in my car (how many people can you get in a Honda Accord?). As I looked back toward the mountain, I saw houses burning, and I realized all of Los Alamos could burn.”
Have you experienced a challenge like this in your life?
What would become the Cerro Grande Fire began as what the National Park Service called a controlled burn, meant to protect the forest. Within a day, it burned out of control and was declared a wildfire. On May 7, 2000, three days after ignition, the western part of Los Alamos was evacuated. On May 10, when Los Alamos Canyon started to burn, the townsite was evacuated. Many evacuees took shelter with friends and family in White Rock. But at 1:07 a.m., sirens sounded in White Rock, announcing an evacuation for that community as well.
Header photo by Vint Miller, courtesy Los Alamos County.
Were you here for the Cerro Grande Fire? Click here to share your story with us and to read stories of resilience from friends and neighbors.
When the Los Alamos History Museum reopens, join us in the Guest Cottage to see Resilience and Regrowth in person. The museum exhibit has the space to share even more photographs, artifacts, and personal stories.
Thank you for your donations that made this exhibit possible!
Nancy and John Bartlit
Stephen A. Becker
Brent and Robyn Collom
John S. Hendricks
Hans and Ryn Hermann
Linda and Bob Hill
Mary Pat Kraemer
Robert C. Moore
Ben and Ruth Neal
Deborah and Rick Reiss
John and Kit Ruminer
Santa Fe New Mexican
Georgia and Gerry Strickfaden
Cherie and Andy Trottier
Roger Waterman and Emily McGay
In creating this online exhibit, the Los Alamos Historical Society is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Mexico Humanities Council.