Like predators, wildfires are part of our life in the Southwest. The Dog Head Fire, which broke out last Tuesday in the Manzano Mountains and continued to rage without significant containment for almost a week, is probably 15 to 20 miles south of us. The plumes of smoke can be seen from every where in the East Mountains.
The fire broke out just as our weather became blistering hot, the humidity was too low to record and winds were blowing hard. It quickly grew from a 25 acre fire to a 1,300 acre fire and and exploded to it’s current 17,944 acre fire. After days of no containment, more humid and calm weather last Sunday permitted the 900 plus firefighters battling this monster to finally get a leg up and “hold the line”. Our “Go Bags” were ready by the front door, animal trailer hitched to the truck, and all vehicles full of gas. As we watched the huge column of smoke expand in size every day our heats went out to those who were being evacuated from the fires path. Some have lost everything except their lives. Others homes were spared by the quirkiness of a wildfire but more often by the quick and heroic acts of fire fighters who brave these fierce fires to hand dig trenches, cut down trees, clear brush and drop fire retardent to protect the homes very much in harm’s way.
Often over the last week, as we kept a wary eye on the conflagration 20 miles away, our thoughts were often about and grateful for the “community” of many that seemingly pops up over night to care for the victims. Teams of fire fighters, including Hot Shot teams, come from all parts of the country. They are bivouacking in tents in nearby fields battling the fire, sleeping a little, maybe a shower, eating and then back at it.
Over 300 people have had to leave their homes and are being cared for by volunteers in temporary shelters in several East Mountain communities. We are in the rural mountains. These evacuated areas are also home to many animals. Dogs, cats, birds, goats, chickens, horses, and livestock have been evacuated to safe areas set up by the public agencies, animal oriented non-profits and good-hearted neighbors.
A lot of work by volunteer groups and agencies done in advance of this fire and the wildfire season to help us all be prepared (how did we know about “Go Bags” and defensible space around our house?) We have particularly benefited from attending programs held by the East Mountain Interagency Fire Protection Association, to teach us how to be ready. Thanks to these agency’s and volunteer groups the fire even has its own Facebook page. We can monitor maps, websites for current information about what is going on and be vigilant.
Thank you to all the people who are fighting the fire, rescuing people and animals, and donating safe havens and funds to the victims. We know fires happen, they are scary, destructive and initially you can feel very much alone. It makes all the difference in dealing with such a crisis when a community of support exists.
Thank you to all mentioned above and anyone not, who have pitched in to help and who continue to do so.
Until next time …. Sandy & Lee