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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