Last month, the City of Santa Fe partnered with the American Red Cross to establish an evacuation center at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center for those impacted by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire and the Cerro Pelado Fire.
The city cordoned off the gym and track at the Chavez Center as a temporary shelter and to give evacuees privacy, but not a single evacuee has arrived since the temporary shelter opened nearly a month ago. City officials tell SFR the shelter will close on Saturday when the Red Cross vacates the community center and the center will resume normal operating hours for all its amenities on Monday.
The blaze in Northeastern New Mexico has reached 62% containment after burning 316,971 acres in San Miguel, Mora, Colfax and Taos counties. Containment jumped almost 10% in the last 24 hours.
Since the fires started in April, evacuation centers have opened and closed to provide temporary shelter and resource hubs for those fleeing the blaze. An evacuation center at Glorieta Adventure Camps, which has housed over 1,200 people impacted by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in the past month, closed last week so the center can prepare for annual summer camps.
SFR visited the Southside center on Thursday afternoon and found a steady stream of Santa Fe residents filing in and out.
Annie Granillo usually brings her god-daughter to the community center to play basketball in the summer as a way to get her out of the house. But Granillo tells SFR she hasn’t been able to do that since the closure.
Ted Bloom had hoped to swim at the community center on Thursday but found the pool closed due to a staffing issue. So he looked to run on the track, instead of exercising outside in the midday sun, but with it closed he opted for the treadmill instead.
Other city residents outside the community center on Thursday said they weren’t disturbed by the inconvenience.
“Though no evacuees have been received at the GCCC, at one point there was high concern that the Glorieta shelter, which was sheltering over 700 people, would need to be evacuated and many [of] those individuals would need to take refuge at the GCCC,” writes city spokesman Dave Herndon in an emailed statement.
The city is in conversations with the Red Cross to assess the fire danger and the necessity of evacuations in the Pecos area. Several regions in the Pecos area that were previously in “go” status have been downgraded to “set” in recent weeks, including Bull Canyon, Cow Creek and Upper and Lower Colonias, which was less than a mile from the fire’s footprint.
Another signal of the fire’s diminishing threat: On Friday the New Mexico Environment Department lifted several drinking water advisories that had been in place for San Miguel and Mora counties.
“We would like to thank our users at GCCC for their patience with this temporary interruption to the use of our entire facility,” writes Community Services Director Maria Sanchez-Tucker in an emailed statement. “We were asked to provide this service in case our neighbors had this need during this crisis, we are very proud that we have been able to proactively be prepared for this situation.”