Thursday, June 30, 2011

Filling in a Fire Sandwich

At times we are glued to the computer for You-Tube videos, news bits, and published fire maps, trying from this great distance to figure out where we are in the threat to our town.

Gas station one block from my house. Photo
taken by a police officer on June 29.
As of this writing, late Thursday night, Los Alamos has been spared. This feat is entirely the work of crews setting back-fires, the huge water reservoirs that were installed after the last fire, the judicious use of water and human resources, and a lot of wise experience on the part of our local firemen and officials. I could not be more amazed at how the fire somehow managed to flow towards the west and hit the ski area and not the western edge of town, how the fire was stopped essentially at State Road 4 and did not encroach (much) onto lab property. It is a road I have traversed almost daily for 8 years. I know it by heart and it will pain me to see it wasted and charred. But on the north side of the road, it will appear normal; green Ponderosas towering above the canyon, interspersed with juniper and a few pinon, till the elevation diminishes and the junipers take the lead.

Of course there are rumors....we might return tomorrow, no, no, it'll be Sunday, ooops, wrong again - it'll be Monday. At this point, unless some twist of fate happens, the fire will be put out by rain, back winds, or lack of fuel as it runs into the previously burned area left by the Cerro Grande fire in 2000. It will end. And it will end as the largest and most destructive fire in New Mexico history, just as the recent Wallow Fire was the worst in Arizona's history. It's been a bad bad year. Right now about 15 more fires are burning elsewhere in the state, most of them caused by lightning.

I tried to go for a walk this morning, along the Bosque, just west of my friend Anna's home but I was turned back by the police. They have a portable substation parked at the trailhead and were not allowing anyone to go down the paved trails. Then later in the day, we heard of a fire in the Bosque, just south of here, in Tingley Park. I feel like I am in a fire sandwich, potentially being burned from two sides. The fire would have to jump a six lane bridge, Central Avenue, but it is conceivable we could end up evacuating from Anna's house too.

I'll be so glad when the monsoon rains start. The clouds built up today and then we experienced a typical New Mexico 4-inch rain.....4 inches between the drops!