Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fires in the Southwest

Over the past few weeks there have been several wildfires throughout the southwest, including my state. The biggest and scariest of these is a wallow fire that has been going on for 11 days in east-central Arizona. With the drought and the strong winds, fire danger is a serious problem in this region. From what I've heard, this is a human induced fire.

I was sitting in my living room around 7pm on Monday, and I noticed the light in my kitchen looked weird. I realized that the light was coming from the window, and the weird color was from the sky which was a strange brownish orange. We had been getting smoke from Arizona for a couple days, but that was the worst I had seen it. In addition to being able to smell the smoke, there were particles falling from the sky. Of course, this is just ash, none of it is on fire, but the flash from my camera made the particles look a lot like snow.

As of yesterday, this is the second largest fire in Arizona's history, and it doesn't really show any signs of stopping soon. The cities of Eagar and Springerville have been evacuated as firefighters work to try and save those areas. Another major concern now is the possibility that the fires will take down some major electrical lines, which could cause cascading blackouts in Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas.

I don't feel as though I am in any imminent danger, the smoke here in Albuquerque wanes in the morning but then is thicker in the evenings when the winds change. It's more of an inconvenience for me at this point, my asthma hasn't been too bad. However, my heart goes out to the people in Arizona who are helpless and can only watch as their homes and communities are consumed. I hope that we get some rain and that the winds die off before much more destruction happens.

I was talking to a fellow student yesterday who experienced the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos, NM during 2000. She was evacuated from her home. The smoke in their air here from the Arizona fire is causing her anxiety, even though we're in no real danger at the moment. I guess when you go through such psychological stress, the physical affects can last for a long time afterward.

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