~ They call it the Wallow Fire, as in the word “wallow”.
Latest Albuquerque fire Update:
It is 12:00 noon in Albuquerque about now. The air is still, and there is still smoke in the air, a light haze, from the smoke of the Wallow Fire. Last night was more difficult. An air inversion, fairly typical for the valley, kept the smoke locked in and the houses locked up as people tried to contain a bit of smoke-free air. People in Albuquerque woke up to a light coating of ash in many neighborhoods. The fire is still “0” percent (0%) contained, and growing. It seems that Albuquerque is “in it” for the long haul, (perhaps) a “long hot summer” of smoke and fire.
Straight off the web, we have the meaning of the word: “to live self-indulgently; luxuriate;“. Perhaps the name itself is important, it connects most of the attitude of America, to this fire; although I am not convinced everybody in America is asleep. Is it really that simple? Self-indulgence is really the American Dream.
Basic facts with which to understand this fire:
The size of a fire is generally given in “acres”. An acre is an area of land, not a distance. There are 640 acres in one square mile of land. The size of a fire is reported in terms of acres burned and burning. A fire of “1,450 acres” is a fire that has “consumed” a little over 2 square miles of brush, or trees, or both (depending upon the vegetation upon the terrain). The terrain (in this case) is the hills, ravines, valleys, meadows, and mountains that are typical of Arizona and much of the west.
The time in Arizona is one hour earlier than in Albuquerque (and New Mexico). If a report says it is 8:00 AM in Arizona, it is 9:00 AM in Albuquerque and 3:00 PM (15:00) in Greenwich (London). Fire report updates are made (maybe) once a day at this time (more or less) depending on the severity of the fire and the “incident commander”.
Times indicated are Arizona (local) times unless otherwise indicated.
Background to “bears” and the “wallow”:
Technically this might have been the “Bear Wallow Fire”, named properly after the Bear Wallow Wilderness in Arizona. However, the name “Bear Wallow Fire” was already taken; there was a May 2007 fire by that name on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona. It was very small, only one-quarter of an acre in size.
Beginning on June 21, 2008 and continuing until September 25 (86% containment) there was the “Bear Wallow Complex Fire” in Klamath National Forest, in northern California. The fire burned approximately 51,000 acres.
The “Wallow Fire” (Arizona) started on May 29, 2011. It apparently started in (or near) the Bear Wallow Wilderness (Near intersection of County Road 25 and U.S. Highway 191, or west of this location), moving (initially) in a (mostly) northeasterly direction.
By May 30, 2011 (11:30 PM) the fire had grown to 1,450 acres, had cost $50,000, and was still 23 miles southwest of Alpine, Arizona. On June 2, 2011 (8:00 AM) the fire had consumed 40,000 acres, at a cost of $1,768,000 and had moved 11 miles closer to Alpine, AZ.
On June 3, 2011 (4:30 PM) the fire had grown to 100,000 acres and was the fourth largest fire in Arizona history.
By June 4, 2011 (8:30 AM) the Wallow Fire had grown to be the third largest fire in Arizona history, burning over 140,000 acres, at a cost of $3,000,000.
Sunday: June 5, 2011 – 2:30 PM / 1:30 PM Arizona fire time:
Once again it was a fairly difficult night in Albuquerque, not that there is anything “fair” about unreasonable difficulty. The problem is still the fire, the Wallow Fire; which is getting bigger and growing, and now it is clearly becoming “national” news. I think I said it would.
There is a malaise associated with smoke and fire. All smoke is hallucinogenic, it gets the mind going or drifting or makes it a bit lost in space (and time). I had a great bit of prose going for a little while this morning, then I lost it, like smoke and mirrors it vanished and like smoke in your eyes the image of the post was gone; why bother?
But maybe for you “new to town” east coast “viewers” who are just catching on to the enormity of this fire I should stay here, and be here, and write a few words for you. You could have visited Arizona last summer, last year, before the state was burning and all that mattered (it seems) was an immigrant and their rights (here or there). And then there was the Arizona (Tucson) shooting. Now things are really getting hot in Arizona, meaning the fire.
The Wallow Fire is still totally out of control. It is not nice to be outdoors in Albuquerque, 200 miles away (from the fire). The sky is a dusty yellow. It is like having a thousand neighbors who smoke. It smells a bit like tobacco, the stale smoke smell left over from the days before, the old smoke, second-hand smoke, may be stronger than the new smoke coming in. That will change by nightfall. Same old drill. How long before people evacuate or just leave for a 7 day “weekend”. Damn the price of fuel, meaning gas; and yes, Homeland Security will kill you. They could free-up the oil reserves in Albuquerque and New Mexico and Arizona and Colorado about now. They could give us gas at last years prices so we could get away. They won’t. Like with Katrina and TSA groping, the DHS likes to see people suffer.
By Wednesday Obama himself should fly out to see the fire. He can watch the smoke and see the flames and see what Afghanistan is all about (and Libya) as it lays below just “burning” and “smoking” and being laid to ruin as the experts say, “there’s nothing else we can do.” “You shouldn’t change ships in the middle of a fire,” or was the original more about horses and streams?
I have masking tape around the doors to help them stay sealed. Duct tape is for Al Qaeda, masking tape is “good enough” for smoke and the domestic perils like government frozen by inaction. Thin the forests, clear out all the dead wood (like in Congress). Now you see the point – one might lead to the other, best leave everything alone. When will Congress catch fire, when will the trash in the nooks and crannies get too deep, and when will lightning strike, or a new girl or boy come in with a book of matches? Is it a metaphor? Is homeland security really working? If so, why aren’t they working on THIS fire with about $50 million dollars a day? Isn’t Arizona and New Mexico worth it? Don’t they want to put this fire OUT?
Yes, I do have a bunch of links yet unposted. This is history in the making, you can feel it, you can TASTE it – it will be BIG! But right now, all this fire is doing is literally making me sick. And my wife is ill, draining, coughing. If you were thinking about coming to Albuquerque (or New Mexico) you might think about staying away. Even a “rocket scientist” can’t put out a fire, even if it is in his (or her) own back yard. So much for “science, when mother nature makes a call.
There is a reason they make wine. The throat feels so much better when you’re “smoking”, can’t concentrate anyway, write a rambling post. I wonder if in Grants (New Mexico) they are doing any better, or in Datil, or in Pie Town maybe. They have heavy smoke in those communities too, and more is on the way. Have a piece of Apple Pie (maybe), or “Drink up”, America. Cheers!
Monday: June 6, 2011 – 7:30 PM / 6:30 PM Arizona fire time:
They have been predicting “it” most of the day, the evening winds from the west and southwest, the direction of the fire, the Wallow Fire. The fire has now burned more that 300 square miles, 200,000 acres, and that was the word from this morning. It had grown by about 60,000 acres in 14 hours. This fire is headed for the border, meaning both the border of Arizona and New Mexico and the border of reasonableness and reasonable fires.
The winds and smoke hit Albuquerque at 6:15 (ABQ time) this evening. The air inversion sets in by about 7:20. Now we have another 10 or 11 hours to hunker down, settle in, and wait for better air and better times and better wind conditions. Ten hours can be a long time when there is so much tension. Smoke is calming only for the bees. I’m not a bee.
The streets are clearing, becoming deserted. The last dog walkers are going home, nature has called or the “nature’s calling” for the dogs are off until tomorrow. I saw one woman just stop and stare (into the air; and sky). I wanted to go out and tell her, “yes the sky is falling.” The cleaner air in the house kept me in. She will figure it out herself.
I spent the last hour renewing the masking tape around all the doors, I rechecked the latches on the windows, tested the sealing power of the rubber seals. There will be no second chance this night. Any smoke in, will stay in for the duration. It’s best to keep as much smoke as possible out. I’m coughing a bit as I write this. It’s 7:41 now, and counting. The sky is getting darker and the air – maybe it is the smoke that contains a little air.
We are in a full “red flag warning”. That is the highest fire danger. It is very dry and the winds are whipping when they are blowing. The drought continues. No rain, little water. The sun is relentless. Today it was almost 100 degrees, and the UV count is too high to really count, so they mostly fake it.
Part of the day I was out. There is a malaise. I worked on sealing things and making the roof tighter and increasing the areas of shade. Sometimes it feels like a Ray Bradbury Martian Chronicles chronicle. I am the hero of my own story where maybe there is no hero after all, depending on the ending. In the end the smoke (like time) will filter through the cracks; this is not a ship I’m in, it is the desert, I’m not in water.
There is always something poignant about a person writing notes from within a disaster. It is like reading a diary from the Titanic sinking, or listening to a cell phone conversation from in a Trade Tower tower. Laura Ingalls lived through the “Great Winter”, but she retired to California and the sun. How do we know how these things will effect us? Will Joplin just “rebuild”? Is there really nothing to the idea of learning? Can’t someone move on after living in denial, and then surviving the disaster that any sane person knew was sure to come?
The Wallow Fire is still “zero percent” contained. After more than a week that is evidence that nobody is even trying. Or maybe there is NO MONEY in Arizona, or FOR ARIZONA, no real money to fight this fire on the ground with “troops” on the ground with chainsaws and picks and shovels. There is no glory in it. It’s just hard hot work. Make a mistake and the work will kill you. Fire is so unforgiving.
When I was young and living in Tahoe (at Tahoe, meaning in a cabin at Lake Tahoe) they still had a law that required every car that traveled through the mountains to carry a blanket and a shovel. By law the authorities could order every driver out (meaning out of their car) to fight a forest fire. And sometimes they did, but more often they just had volunteers. “I can get to Sacramento tomorrow,” “or Reno,” or Lodi or Stockton or Fallon maybe. “Tonight I’ll stay here,” I’ll fight this fire to the finish or maybe die trying. It was a different America then.
Now jobs are reserved for the “professionals”, the “experts”, those well paid or not well paid. The civilians, the citizens are seen as a liability, or someone just waiting to file suit. I used to travel through fire lines, as cars filed single file on a 16 foot wide road with fires burning on either side, sometimes just eight or twelve feet away. The smoke was heavy. You could see the ash and embers. These experiences made “Smokey the Bear” a bit more real, “Only You” really meant “Me”.
Will the Apache National Forest ever come back? It depends on the extent of the ruin. A big chunk of this forest is already gone. The locals can stay in their homes and breathe inhuman levels of smoke in their small communities until they die. I’ve watched small communities of forest folks die, the fire came, then came ruin. Life was over, it would never be the same. The tourists did not return to harvest charcoal, or to replant the trees in rows. The new “mono forests” the lumbermen planted were just never the same. Maybe it was “timber”, but the life of the old forest was gone. And then the new trees would be hit by disease. No wonder the price of toilet paper is so far up.
So if you live in Joplin, maybe you can “house trade” with someone from Alpine, Arizona. Want to live in Albuquerque? I can give you a real good deal for the rest of the week, even if you can’t really rest here. All “no smoking” rooms have been taken. Thought you should know.
8:45 PM Arizona fire time. The Wallow Fire has now become the second largest fire in Arizona History, surpassing the Cave Creek complex Fire in size. The Cave Creek Fire was 248,000 acres. The Wallow Fire has now burned more than 390 square miles, 250,000 acres, and is threatening to cross the border into New Mexico where Luna, New Mexico is threatened. “Luna” New Mexico is not Los Lunas New Mexico, a city south of Albuquerque.
My grandfather, Guy D. Martin, built the Cave Creek Dam, north of Phoenix, Arizona. The Cave Creek complex Fire was north of the dam, in the Cave Creek watershed.
Tuesday: June 7, 2011 – 10:00 AM / 9:00 AM Arizona fire time:
The air in Albuquerque last night did not meet expectations. It was better, far better than predicted. Right now the air here is not great, but is not really bad. The residual smoke and haze is like a lead weight that you can’t get rid of regardless of how much it slows you down.
There seems to be a news blackout (of sorts) from Arizona on the Wallow Fire and the progress. I suspect that there is “no progress” and that’s the reason why. The incident commander is Joe Reinarz and the Southwest Incident Management Team. Look at these people and look carefully at the pictures. There are a lot of smiles and smiling faces. I am sure they are a bunch of very nice people, but do you want “nice people” on your side when there is a WAR to be fought that should involve BIG and hard-fought decisions?
They should have called up the National Guard days ago. There are not enough “ground troops” fighting this fire. There is too much reliance on helicopters (at least 22, “catch 22”). You can’t ever win an “air war” (except in the movies) without enough troops on the ground, and then (like Vietnam) you might not do it if the strategy and tactics are not right, or if you are not on the right side of history.
Sure, nobody wants to “wake up” and say, “we now are not in control of Arizona’s second largest fire.” This is especially true if it will be Arizona’s worst fire by Friday or Saturday, in the “doubling”. I would bring in a seasoned professional from Wyoming or Montana as a new incident commander and let him or her appoint their own team. The “Southwest” is too laid back, too ready to let things drift further into disaster. This fire should have been OUT a week ago. No kidding!
10:30 AM (ABQ) Update:
I just found this post from “Fire Earth” about the Wallow Fire. I stand by my statement that the Wallow Fire became Arizona’s second largest fire “last night” on April 6th. However, the prediction by Fire Earth that the fire will be one “covering” 500 square miles (by today!) is sobering. The main reason for the link is there “smoke plume” photographs from space. This smoke is reaching the midwest and east coast now to add to all their other problems. I’ve increased the impact figure below to “10 million”.
Aren’t you really tired of the “Weiner” story, after all, EVERY male Congressman is ruled by one.
And it is not even noon in Albuquerque – New Mexico:
The google map for the fire map area shown above is here. The “A” is for Greer (not Weiner the “adulterer” in his own mind.) The Wallow Fire has already moved into the White Mountain Apache Reservation and is about to cross the border into New Mexico and descend on Luna.
North of Greer there is really no where else for the fire to go, it has consumed “all” the forest. There is a lot more forest to “burn through” to the east and to the west and “some more” to the south. The San Carlos Apache Reservation could be next if the winds were really to change (with the upcoming monsoonal flow). We already had an “east wind” in Albuquerque last week, it could reach the western border, and with it, Arizona.
This post is from the New Mexico Department of Health warning. It is about the air, and about how unhealthy and bad it is. This is the way it is regarding the Wallow Fire on this Tuesday, June 7, 2011.
Tuesday: June 7, 2011 – 8:00 PM / 7:00 PM Arizona fire time:
The news of the evening from Albuquerque is (was) the bright red sun. If one was out, one could not help but notice it, as this person (here) noticed it and shot the video. They say, “blood red sun,” over Albuquerque; I’m not so sure. Maybe it is just the Zia Sign:
Image courtesy of the Zia Pueblo. However, this “sun sign” is also the central image of the flag of New Mexico.
Maybe we share something with Japan, a big red sun; maybe the real difference is the “rays”. And then there is the, “the east is red,” thing. In Albuquerque this evening it was the red sun in the west that said the day was over. The question everyone is asking is when will the Wallow Fire in Arizona, “be over”? It was not the “sky” that was red, it was the sun itself – there is no “sailors delight” in the imagery; it was more “OMG”, “was that really red,” or was it more like TANGERINE (in color)? Or was it Tangerine (in love).
We will see what tomorrow brings. Is it closer to the end, or just the end of (this) fire?
This post is in progress, corrections will be made as better information is identified. The Wallow Fire is probably the biggest, most important news and event for at least 10 million people.
[“Ash fall” Post posted on June 4, 2011 @ 20:37 ZLT / GMT / Zulu / UTC]