The black-and-white broadside of a paint horse on a hillside at least a half-mile away drew me out of bed this morning. The news from the Sangre de Cristos and Jemez was not good after Earth Day wind, fire and dust violence, but we seemed to luck out near the Sandia mountain.
The Calf Canyon fire on the Las Vegas side of the Sangres reportedly ran 15 miles overnight and was close to joining the Hermit’s Peak fire. The nearby Cooks Peak fire had doubled in size the night before. Growth of the Cerro Pelado fire in the Jemez, starting Friday afternoon, might be corralled by the scars of earlier fires.
None of those fires was labeled human-caused, though the Hermit’s Peak fire, starting April 6, is a runaway prescribed burn. Or as the Forest Service reported: “Cause: Multiple spot fires spread beyond the prescribed fire project boundary.”
At least 10 fires were reported around New Mexico on Friday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday said 20 were burning in 16 of the state’s 33 counties.
.Aridification — warmer and drier — along with wind gusting over 70 mph seemed the big factors here on Earth Day. Maybe not this time but downed power lines are a familiar culprit, too. There was no lightning this time around. Laura Paskus had a well-timed full-hour “Our Land” program Friday night on wildfire and climate change on NMPBS/New Mexico in Focus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I45rcwfk0Q. I watched as the sun went down and the wind eased a little.
Wind-driven dust presented its own challenges on Friday. Twitter was full of images of obscured roadways, from Chinle to Albuquerque. Interstate 25 was closed for a while because of accidents near Algodones. I could not see the Jemez or the Sangre de Cristos from Placitas and only a faint outline of Sandia mountain showed just to the south of me.
I saw something on my computer that I had not see before. With dust and smoke together, the air quality reading on the AirNow site had gone beyond readings of unhealthy very unhealthy and hazardous. On Earth Day it said, “Beyond Index”
I read a moment ago (11:30 a.m., 04/23/22) that the Calf Canyon and Hermit’s Peak fire have, in fact, joined. Structures apparently burned. https://nmfireinfo.com/2022/04/23/calf-canyon-and-hermits-peak-fires-combine/
Now for another windy day in New Mexico, Earth.
You can follow fire developments on the Facebook page of Santa Fe National Forest at https://www.facebook.com/santafeNF