Monday, June 27, 2011

The next day: All smoke, no mirrors

Not much of a photo even with the big Canon T1i as I wasn't thinking of tripods, but this gives you the idea, along with the surreal mood. Greg Kendall has some great pics at his site.
Middle School Parking Lot at about 11 p.m. as the fire topped the ridge. 
Armegeddon must look something like this.
Oddly, I didn't notice till listening to National Public Radio this morning that the Pacheco Fire north of Santa Fe is also blowing up fast. Funny how a fire just upwind of you takes your mind off other people's problems that are already downwind of the fan.

Its touch and go in BombTown; some have already left.  There seems a strange calm right now until the wind picks up again. After watching the smoke all yesterday, around dusk I saw flames shooting over the ridge just the other side of Frijoles Canyon, just to the southwest, as the fire burned its way all the way through the Jemez in just a few hours. 43,500 acres at last report based on overnight infrared mapping, assuming no typos (the last report last night claimed about 4000-5000 acres and that's more like what local radio is saying this morning). It did look like a large, powerful fire. That's more than a bit chilling. We packed clothing, dog and cat food, and other essentials last night and there was a voluntary evacuation, but we decided to stick it out here unless there is a mandatory one. My asthma didn't even kick in, as a lot of the worst smoke settled over White Rock.

When the suitcases were packed, albeit frantically, we went up the hill on North Mesa to the Los Alamos middle school. There was a pretty big turnout. It scary watching a big crown fire from a few miles away--and from downwind. 100 foot trees literally go up like roman candles. I was watching through binoculars and could see big trees literally explode. I could also see what they mean by "spotting". Little orange dots would appear in advance of the fire like little paratroopers and pretty soon that area was engulfed in real time.

The fire burned into the Cerro Grande fire area and into a previous 1990's burn and that slowed progress in the direction of town. I don't think there is going to be much left of the Bandelier National Monument except rocks, though. The fire was burning through Frijoles Canyon and Bandelier. That's tragic.

The Southwest is a tenuous place to live under normal circumstances, because normal here can include fire, drought, megadrought, and the occasional wet decade or two that encourages mass numbers of fools to move in. This year should serve as a reminder that we live at the behest of Ma Nature and her complex climate cycles; she doesn't take prisoners. Political smoke and mirrors matter little at times like this when reality takes over.

New Mexico Fire Info updates on the Conchas Fire are HERE.


Walter Enomoto said...

Aloha Khal,
Stay safe and don't worry if you can't blog. Better to be safe and blog another day than.....
Praying for some rain for ya.

Boz said...

Hope everything works out for you, this weird weather is making a mess of things. Doing the rain dance for you, too bad you guys didn't get some of the monsoons we've had here lately. Hang in there, pard!