No, My House Has Not Burned Down…yet

29 Jun

How's this for dramatic? (Image from Act Naturally)

Michael and I saw smoke on the horizon when we pulled out of our driveway on Sunday:

We’re getting used to it since there are several huge wildfires going on in New Mexico.  We live in Santa Fe and one of the fires is up on our ski basin about a 30 minute drive from us.   Another is blazing right next to Los Alamos (yeah, the nuclear facility).  The fires are no surprise, if anything I’m surprised it’s taken this long for us to have another really substantial fire in the area.  When Michael and I moved into this house 10 years ago the area was just starting to show signs of drought.  Within 3 years we had lost almost 1/2 of our pinon trees to the bark beetle which kills trees when they are stressed from not having enough water.  We spent the next few years slowly clearing out the dead trees but in the end when we looked at our neighbors and saw they were not doing the same we gave up.  In defense of my neighbors many of them don’t have the resources to take on clearing acres of dead trees.

This past Mother’s Day we came home to a fire burning across the road.  The good news was that the fire department is only a mile away and was able to contain the fire early on.  About 20 acres and an empty structure were burned.   After watching the fire for a few minutes Michael and I came home knowing we should pack up a few things just in case we had to evacuate.  We didn’t ….we opted to garden.  That night when we talked about our strange reaction we both agreed we were OK with letting go of all our stuff.  The big concern was gathering up the animals and grabbing some important documents.

Sometimes I feel like an intruder on our land.  There should be fires every so often for a healthy wilderness.  Here, trees have been allowed to grow too close together.  The trees get unhealthy, diseased and large.  Living among all these trees and wilderness I’ve had to come to terms with fact that I might lose my house.

Los Alamos is hidden in the forest.  Back in the day it made sense to stick a super-secret government lab out in the middle of nowhere.  Now it can be a problem especially where fire is concerned.  Once again a huge (69,000 acres and counting) wildfire is coming right up to the labs.  Sure, they prepare for the worst but I don’t think I’m being a cynic when I say, ‘we’d be the last to know’.  There are emails going around saying radioactive waste has already been compromised in the wildfire.   Although they are unsubstantiated they add to the sense of uneasiness around here.  The National Forest does perform ‘control burns’ in an effort to thin the forests.  An out of control ‘controled burn’  caused the last Los Alamos fire ten years ago.

Here’s Amy Goodman from Democracy Now talking about the fires and the potential hazzards of having a nuclear facility smack dab in the middle of an overgrown forest:

Tonight I’m out on my porch watching the black thunder clouds building up.  It’s like they are practicing for the coming monsoon rains.  The air smells like rain and the air is cooling down fast.  This is what will stop the wildfires.  It’s what just about everyone here is waiting and praying for.  And just if you were wondering,  the firework stands are still open for business…….

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11 Responses to “No, My House Has Not Burned Down…yet”

  1. Cynthia June 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    beautifully summarized Molly — Thanks!

  2. Practical Parsimony June 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    That is frightening. I have a cousin in NM, near there. I need to call him. Did Michael take the time-lapsed video?

    • Molly On Money June 30, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      I feel for the people of Los Alamos. I don’t think one can get use to being evacuated from their home. Michael did not take the time lapse. I didn’t even think people would be confused because the photographer’s name is also Michael. The photo time lapse was taken by Michael Zeiler.

  3. 101 Centavos June 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Here’s hoping y’all’s house gets through OK. Having an evacuation mindset is good to have, not the least reason being relatively close to a gov’t nuclear facility. I remember that when when Mount St. Helens blew its top, some people lost their lives simply because they refused to leave their house. We have a couple of creaky old refineries on the other side of the Arkansas river, only a few miles away. Even though full-scale evacuation due to releases or accidents is a remote possibility, it’s certainly not out of the question.

    • Molly On Money June 30, 2011 at 7:24 am #

      There are people that are refusing to leave. According to news reports some residence are worried about looting. The local Los Alamos police are staying behind to try and keep that from happening. When the ash was dropping on us on Monday I did have thoughts of Mt. St. Helens.

  4. First Gen American June 30, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    As beautiful as the dessert is, I don’t think I’d ever be able to live in a place where there is no water. It just seems very un natural to me. I wouldn’t mind living someplace where the climate is more temperate though, so I’d move further south or to the Northwest. I say I hate crappy weather but living in Seattle (zone 7 I think), seems nice to me. You can grow all kinds of wacky things and not ever have to worry about the deep freeze or droughts. I’m thinking we’d probably retire on the east coast though as most of our family is here.

    I really wish I could give you some of our water. It still seems to rain almost daily in the Northeast.

    • Molly On Money June 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      I always say my constitution was made for the green misty isles of Ireland but somehow I have a hard time leaving this dry dessert. Having so many sunny days makes it kind of addicting (especially in the winter).
      I love the weather in San Diego although we were on vacation there (about 7 years ago) when they had their terrible wildfires….and then there’s the earthquakes.

  5. nicoleandmaggie June 30, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    Stay safe!

  6. jimonthefarmNino June 30, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Watched a neighbor here in the Albuquerque South Valley shooting bottle rockets into the air last night!

    • Molly On Money June 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Really?…..REALLY?! Isn’t there a fire blazing just a few miles away from you?


  1. Independence Day Roundup! | 101 Centavos - July 2, 2011

    […] As we celebrate on this long weekend, spare some thoughts and well-wishes for Molly and Michael @ Molly On Money, who are watching towering columns of smoke as wildfires in NM get ever bigger.  No, My House Has Not Burned Down Yet […]

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