Ayudar — To Assist

Ayudar is the Spanish infinitive for to help. Here in New Mexico, most people know at least some English, but Spanish is frequently spoken, often for tradition sake. We are in a situation where there is a great need and neighbors are being very generous in helping those in need.

The Monzano Mountains are a rage of peaks about 10 miles east of where we live in New Mexico.  That area has had less than an inch of rain in the past two months.

The other day, we spotted an isolated cloud that seemed to hover over this mountain range. I asked a local volunteer fireman if that was smoke from a fire. He confirmed that there is a small forest fire on the other side of the mountains.

The fire was located high in the mountains in rough terrain that is almost inaccessible. Two hot shot crews headed toward the fire on foot. Hot shot crews of 20 men (and women)  are specialists at fighting fires in remote areas. When they reached the 600 acre fire, they did what the could, but their job was mostly reconnaissance.

The fire was attacked by tankers and helicopters. Unfortunately strong winds pushed the fire into thick pines lower on the mountain. The fire is now 17,000 acres in size and moving northeast, threatening some small communities on the lower slopes.

Most of this part of the Monzano Range is national forest, but there is some private property within the national forest and just outside of the national forest boundary. There is at least one camp and a number of residences. Some are summer homes, but a few are year round homes occupied by those who are willing to make a 40 mile commute to Albuquerque. Albuquerque is about 25 miles from the fire site as the crow flies. Of these structures about 20 have burned along with related outbuildings.

Next in danger are small ranchers who live further down the slopes. Many of these people are ranching ancestral land. There are also those who have a few acres so they can own horses. These people have been under a voluntary evacuation order for several days. The Sheriff has incrementally expanded the mandatory evacuation zone so that those who stayed are not being required to leave. Bear in mind, that many of these people own animals. Pets and the more valuable ranch animals are being evacuated.

For you animal lovers, it is standard practice in major fires like this to cut fences. This not only gives fire fighters easier access to the property, but gives the stock left behind the opportunity to flee to safety on their own. If they survive, they can be rounded up later.

The latest reports are that the small town of Chilili and other communities in the path of the fire, and are under new evacuation orders. The state fire information agency is publishing information on Facebook.

The reason I write this post is the outpouring of help. Of course government agencies are doing their  best to protect lives and  property, but even in the early stages of the fire, individuals and organizations were posting offers to help evacuations.

Several stables in the area are accepting horses and other live stock. Even individuals with small pastures have posted they could give sanctuary to a few animals. One individual with a horse trailer that carries 4 horses is offering transportation for animals. A trailer rental company in Albuquerque is offering free trailers to those fleeing the fire. A local storage company is offering free storage. An upscale hotel near the airport has posted that evacuees can get rooms for $69, which I think is below 50% of the regular cost.

At the prison in Santa Fe, inmates have been buying personal hygiene items with their own work credits and assembling personal hygiene kits to send to evacuees.

The offers of assistance listed above are only a sample. The area burned and under threat is lightly populated, but it they are all pulling together. Those not in the path of the fire are helping their neighbors who are in danger. Now if people in big cities could learn this lesson and help their fellow citizens when there is a catastrophe, or even a minor need.

Unfortunately I live on the other side of the mountains. The fire is only 25 to 30 miles from me as the crow flies, but about 100 miles via roads. I really can not help physically, and if I were to try, I probably would be in the way. I am supporting them in prayer. I may also make a donation toward the rebuilding after all is over.


About Reynold Conger

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher. Now writing fiction. His books are CHASED ACROSS AUSTRALIA, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS (AT THE COST OF HEALTH). He has also started a series of novelas called THE RICHARD TRACY SERIES. Residence: New Mexico, USA Hobbies: gardening, animals and running. website www.ReynoldConger.com
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