Each night is different at sunset. This is 3rd night of the fire, from EL Cerro hill behind Frenchy’s. Wouldn’t believe colors if didn’t see them myself, a mix of smoke and clouds. Actually had 20 minutes of blessed rain today.
During the first day of the Las Conchas fire in the Jemez mountains across the valley from Santa Fe and close to Los Alamos labs, the town of Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument. 5,000 acres were burned black in the first nine hours. It burned so hot that it crowned from treetop to treetop and the strong winds up to 30 mph “spit” embers half a mile ahead of itself to start fires in new places.
There has been no rain for months, temperatures have been in the 90s and daily winds have dessicated moisture from the land, plants, soil and people.
All day the wind hurls plumes of smoke, obliterating the Sangre de Cristo mountains twenty miles away. They hang long, low-slung along the horizon, tinted an angry orange from the raging flames below. The sun is hidden by dark grey billows; it shines through furiously, then is obliterated once more.
Prairie dogs sit erect by their tunnel entrances whistling loudly, surely a warning, they must have smelled the acrid smoke long before we did.
Heat from the flames carries the smoke 30,000’ and more to form cumulus clouds so high I have to crane my neck to see. These are not the monsoon cumulus clouds we all wait for, pray for, but fire induced voluptuous shapes, sharp against the normally cobalt sky, carrying no desperately needed rain.
There have been violent fires in Arizona and New Mexico the last month, but this one is in our back yard and terrifying.