Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where There’s Smoke…

by Wolf Schneider
Tesuque horses endure fire-scented air

My plan for the day was to be outside walking early in Santa Fe’s cool morning air, but as soon as I woke up my eyes were tearing from the smoke. Arizona’s massive Wallow Fire is 200 miles away, yet it’s suffocating Santa Fe with gauzy skies of hazy smoke instead of our usual sapphire blue mountain skies. Cars are covered with ash, eyes sting, and we’re being advised to stay indoors. Afternoon highs are hovering around 90 as the drought persists here.

The giant Wallow Fire is said to be bigger than New York City and 0% contained right now. It is likely to spread into New Mexico. Our New Mexico fire fighters are on their way to help out at the inferno. So far, Monday night’s burning smell and smoky skies were the worst I’ve ever experienced in Santa Fe. Tonight my eyes still sting and a severe weather advisory is in effect for most of the state, with visibilities reduced to below three miles in Santa Fe, and less in other western and central swaths of New Mexico. The whole issue of fire control is a complicated one, with environmentalists, government, and communities often at odds about when and how to squelch a wildfire: for more on that, read Philip Connors’ excellent book “Fire Season,” which I wrote about in an April blog.

Wolf Schneider has been editor in chief of the Santa Fean, editor of Living West, consulting editor of Southwest Art, and also blogs at

Photographer: David Alfaya, Taken in Artist Studio: Gregory Lomayesva

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