Official Site of True West Magazine, Since 1953
October 18, 2013
When I came into Ruidoso yesterday I passed large areas that had been burned in a recent fire. Orange underbrush has blossomed underneath and it gives an odd sense of barren beauty to the landscape.
BBB: Terrible waste.......we will never see this as it was, not that long ago ! Nature will recover but man may not !! Best to you............
Well, we can seen the devastation of the careless use of fire. Many years ago, when Claudia's older daughters were very young, we joined the Indian Maidens program. Our group decided to take a short trip to the San Bernadino Mountains. En route, we traveled through the Bradbury area where Glenn Miller and his family once lived. Barely a week earlier, the area had been devastated by a fire and the Millers' former home had been destroyed. It was a lesson that was never forgotten: the area seemed completely devoide and the stench was horrendous!
In '68 I fought a small fire at 68.5 mile on the Alaska Highway. It wasn't a very big one; only consumed about 500 acres by the time we had it slowed down and then the rains came.
Yes, the stench is not something one soon forgets, but the animals running across the freshly cut fire-break take a lot longer to fade.
One has to look very hard today to see where the fire was.
Dave, it was a relatively small fire, and the Forest Services' practices were different then than they are now. Just look at what has happened in recent years. Last summer, a major fire erupted in Colorado while I was on vacation; if we had been able to take the Mount Rushmore trip I had envisioned for last summer, we would have been on our return trip through that very area of Colorado! In previous post, I have mentioned the devastating fires that embroiled our area in 1993 and the so-called "Station Fire" which blazed for weeks and killed at least two people. Quite a few years ago, there were two major fires that were caused by men who were homeless or transients. One transient got up one morning and decided he had to build a fire to keep warm! It was already windy, and the wind carried cinders throughout a high-density residential area. When the day was over, only one house remained standing! I saw photos of the area and the aftermath, and it looked like a war zone! In Santa Barbara, the City's authorities had forbidden everybody to water their lawns because of a water shortage. A homeless man living in a make-shift camping spot decided to start a cooking fire. The wind that afternoon was devastating and the cinders and sparked jumped from unwatered lawn to unwatered lawn. Over five hundred homes were destroyed in less than an hour--because that homeless man "had a right to cook his food" as his lawyer later claimed! I seem to remember hearing that cowboys, Texas Rangers, and other travelers in the West often kept what they called a "cold camp" because of the danger of fires getting out of control. CAN YOU IMAGINE A COWBOY OR A TEXAS RANGER GOING WITHOUT COFFEE!
Yes, MA, quite small and very different from what is done today. No smoke jumpers, no water bombers.
We didn't live here then, but my dad told of many smokey days in the early '50s in Soutern Ontario. The fire started not too far from the one I mentioned above; the source was a truck in a logging camp. The fire went through Alberta and most of Saskatchewan before it petered out.
As to the cause ... later investigation suggested that the cause may have been friction with a mortgage rubbing against an insurance policy.
My wife and I were in Ruidoso last week and the mountain top were heart breaking. I had no idea the fire had been so masive. The undergrowth is returning but it will be years before the pines are back to their glory.
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