The fires yesterday were in the Bosque (forest) alongside the Rio Grande near where the I-40 crosses the river. Considerable damage was done to the trees and shrubbery on the east bank of the river. One house under construction on the west side, and several miles north of the blaze(s) was a total loss. Traffic across the river was badly disrupted, and a pall of smoke caused some concern for people with respiratory problems. This was the largest fire within the Albuquerque Bosque in many years, and this is just the beginning of what promises to be a very sever fire season in New Mexico. Things are very dry and we are admonished to carefully conserve water against the drought conditions.
Personally the fire did not endanger us at Corazon, but was within eight miles of Bee and Maddy. I think she had more smoke to contend with than we did, but neither of us were in much danger of the flames themselves.
I believe that the fire isn't completely out yet, but then I haven't been following the news. I've been very busy painting, and today began preparation on five new painting surfaces. Probably will have a few gesso days next week, and can begin work on the paintings shortly thereafter. I'm currently down to only four primed canvasses, and those paintings "in progress" are each nearing "completion". There's a show up in Colorado next month, and I've got to decide which if any of the works will travel up there for exhibition. Framing continues to be a major concern.
Anyway, I'm not writing much because that involves a different way of thinking. I try to check in a couple of times each day to read what's going on, but I hope everyone understands that right now writing takes a backseat to visual thinking.
Good. Glad Letty asked about this.
Ashman, Keep safe, and god speed. We all understand. c.i.
ABQ fire info from BBB
We had a little excitement in ABQ yesterday. Huge fire, massive power outages, smoke-filled sky, freeway shut down right at rush hour, one home (under construction) burned to the ground, no human deaths, don't know about animals (pets and horses, etc.), Rio Grande bridge damage, and loss of trees. All this took place about 5 miles from my home. The parking lot of my favorite shopping place, Home Depot, was command central. The Governor brought in federal and state firefighting assistance. Tankers and copters were overhead for hours. We had to keep doors and windows closed and turn off air conditioning in 90 plus degree heat to keep smoke out of our houses. Neighbors were still arriving home from work after 8:30 pm resulting from the main freeway through ABQ being shut down.
Ash and Natalie called to offer Maddy and I a place to stay if necessary. It wasn't, but appreciated.
See the fire map in the news item below: My house is off Ladera (#3 on the map) to show you how close the fire was (prox 5 miles).
What was scary was the wind direction changed several times during the fire. The fireballs jumped the Rio Grand at least three times during the day. That led to the west side fire being controlled before the fire on the east side of the river. At one point, a huge fireball rolled across the two-lane Rio Grande bridge. Trucks, cars and people on the bridge barely escaped being caught in it. They were lucky. The firefighters on the bridge said they'd never seen a fireball as big as that one. The winds were about 40 MPH, which made it difficult to control the fire. So far this morning, the winds are slight so one can hope the remaining hot spots won't flare up again.
The area is horse country and a lot of volunteers saved horses in the area where the owner's were not home. They also found and saved people's pets.
I watched for embers until about 9 pm, but none appeared because the wind was blowing them away from my home.
Two copters just flew over my house. They've been patrolling all night and today plotting the remaining hot spots.. Most people were able to return to their homes late last night and early this morning.
I went shopping around 11 am today and saw a National Guard copter parked in the soccer field of a high school near the fire area. Police cars are in evidence at all entrances to the affected Bosque area.
Everything considered, it could have been much worse with 40 MPH winds whipping the fire around..
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
By Chris Ramirez and Barbara Chavez - Journal Staff Writers
Journal staff writers Isabel Sanchez, Matt Joyce and Loie Fecteau contributed to this report.
Cheap fireworks probably caused a 600-acre bosque fire Tuesday, forcing about 600 people to evacuate their homes and shutting down Interstate 40 over the Rio Grande during evening rush hour.
"It's a horrific event. It's the worst bosque fire in my memory," said Mayor Martin Chávez. "Every indication we have at this point is that it was caused by fireworks," the mayor said later.
Map of Fire Area
Photos of Fire
Arson investigators were still following leads on the cause late Tuesday night. The entire bosque is closed indefinitely except for the levy and the paved bicycle trails, the mayor said. More than 100 firefighters from about seven agencies battled the blaze, which began shortly after 3 p.m. Winds of 25 to 30 mph helped fuel the fire in an area bounded by I-40 on the south and Montaño on the north throughout the day.
The fire was contained about 8 p.m., shortly after two National Guard helicopters started dumping water on the flames. The tankers weren't immediately available because they had been busy with fires elsewhere in New Mexico, said Albuquerque Fire Chief Robert Ortega. He said the fire was the largest he'd seen in the bosque in his 23 years with the department.
A third helicopter from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department was on stand-by, but did not fly. It likely will be put into service today. The concern late Tuesday night, Ortega said, was hot spots, which fire crews were expected to continue to fight for the next two to three days.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gil Gallegos pledged extra security and beefed up patrols in bosque neighborhoods. The Vista Grande subdivision was one of the first residential areas evacuated Tuesday. Others included La Luz, Oxbow and Thomas Village.
Though about 1,000 homes were approached by police for evacuation, about 600 residents are thought to have gone to various safety sites, including St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Church, Sheraton Old Town hotel and Home Depot at Coors and I-40.
"When I got to my house, it was really smoky," said West Side resident Marsella Duarte, 21. "I just panicked and grabbed the dogs, and I found the cat. And by then the police were just telling us all to 'Go to the Home Depot. Go to the Home Depot!' ''
Dina Sanchez had gone to St. Pius X to monitor the fire situation in the Oxbow Bluff subdivision, where her family is building a home. She said of the blaze, "I don't expect it here. I expect it in rural areas or the mountains. This is just too close to home."
Evacuated West Side residents began returning to their homes about 9 p.m. Those affected on the east side of the river, including the mayor, were headed back to their residences about an hour to 90 minutes later.
Officials said the bosque fire started as two fires merged and then touched off four others. Gov. Bill Richardson, returning from an official trip to Mexico, declared a state of emergency, freeing state resources to help fight the fire.
Traffic came to a near standstill through much of the city after I-40 was shut down because of the heavy smoke. It was reopened at 7 p.m. An hour long power outage switched off traffic signals in the Downtown area and on Coors, aggravating the traffic problems. Coors was closed from 6:30-8 p.m.
A home under construction was destroyed in the new Oxbow subdivision. The owner, Michael Carlisle, said the 5,300-square-foot home would have been worth about $900,000 when finished. "At least there was nobody there. That's all that matters. It can be rebuilt," Carlisle said. He and a firefighter surmised that a windblown ember from the bosque blaze, which was well south of the subdivision, started the house fire.
Albuquerque firefighters and others from Bernalillo County, the state Forestry Division and the village of Los Ranchos were among those fighting the fire from the ground.
Firefighters were prevented from using chemical-based fire retardant, which could pollute the river.
Glad to know you and family are well and so far unaffected by the fire. I had begun to worry about your relative absence from these threads, but am glad to learn it is just a result of your current greater focus on painting. We miss you here.
Sympathy flying to all of you in the Alberquerque fire area. I have a slight fire history..in that one of the fires in the Santa Monica mountains (so. california) came within a dozen blocks of our house, down Kenter Canyon; well, LA at the edge lives quite on the edge. It sure is a stunning experience, and I can hardly fathom the presence of mind it takes to be right up there and firefighting. Hope you all remain well and ok.
I live in LA, Osso, where is Kenter Canyon? I've never heard of it! Malibu?And which fire?
Kenter is just west of Bundy Drive. That was called the Bel Air fire, I think. There may be a second Bel Air fire, believe it or not I can't remember, there have been so many. I lived just south of Sunset, between Sunset and San Vicente, on Gretna Green Way, a street of some other more recent fame. My college of the time, Mount St. Mary's, just up the hill, got some damage, and various houses right on down to near Sunset were burned in a polka dot fashion. It might have been less than a dozen blocks, more like eight, and we lived in the "flats", as the inclined land evened out. That was 1961. There have been many many fires since... that one scared the town shitless. Came close to UCLA too, I think.
Actually, I see I lied. I was going to UCLA by then, and it was my college of the year before, the Mount, that got partly burned. I was nineteen and didn't really believe it would get to our house, and it probably wouldn't have as there was a giant fire fighting mobilization going on...we weren't in the boonies. Still, incredible wipeouts way down into town.
Not to divert the talk from Alberquerque area, sorry. (Fire ecology is a very interesting subject, especially when it affects you.)
Arsonists lighting ABQ fires again
The ABQ Bosque is on fire again. This time, it appears to be arson as fires were set in two separate locations about 4 miles north of last night's fire. Another bridge across the Rio Grande was damaged. More power outages. 200 homes evacuated. The home of my handyman is not far from these new fires. He hasn't had to evacuate yet, but when the strong winds start in about 2 hours, he may have to take his family and pets and leave. The big shopping center where I went grocery shopping today is seriously threatened. The fire started on the east side of the river, then jumped to the west side, where it is spreading fast. Copters and tankers can't be used because of darkness. In about 2 hours, 40 mph winds are expected, which is the worst thing that could happen, because the fires can't be brought under control before then without air support.
This fire may be even worse than last night's fire. Some sick arsonist(s) are at work in the area.
Ugh, to hear of that.
Thinking of you.
BBB, That is frightening news. It makes me so angry to learn that some sicko can be dangerous to so many lives. We can only hope at this point that no lives will be lost. c.i.
ABQ fire update
It was a terrible sight last night. All firefighting efforts were to save lives and property, not going after the overall fire. At dawn this morning, four National Guard copters started dumping water on the hot spots, which was effective. The wind is over 35 MPH and that's a problem.
Everyone could return to their homes except for owners of about 100 homes. They are still in shelters. Fire crews worked through the night (when air assistance couldn't be used) to save all structures, including a large shopping center (where I had shopped yesterday.) The loss of livestock and pets is unknown at this time even though many people tried to save as many as possible in this horse country.
The Montano bridge over the Rio Grande is still closed today. But the main streets and freeways are finally open, except for the streets in the immediate fire area.
The Governor appeared on TV this morning from the fire area, obviously angry, at the arsonist who is causing all this damage. He said when the arsonist is found the full force of the state will fall on the culprit.
Ash, Natalie and I are OK.
BBB, Just saw a report on t.v. about the fire in Albuquerque. We got the news much before from you. Please keep us posted. Stay safe. c.i.
BBB, I'm so glad you are OK, and thanks for the update on Ash and Natalie, too.