Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican
Status of one of the small fires feeding – now – into evacuation. This was just outside Mora 4 days ago.

I don’t know who lives the other side of the Sangre de Cristo range who might see my blog posts; but, it behooves me to repeat the warning that just dropped in onto my iphone:

MORA COUNTY HOLMAN AND CHACON immediate MANDATORY evacuation. Evacuees leaving Mora must utilize highway 434 to Angel Fire, 442 to Wagon Mound or 518 North to Taos. these roads are open for evacuation only. NO REENTRY ALLOWED. Nearest shelter is Penasco High School.If you need help evacuating call State Police 505-827-9300.

Please be safe, people.

UPDATE: Forecasters now say Wednesday will be even worse for Red Flag winds than Monday or Tuesday.

Wildfires rage in Colorado — thousands forced to flee their homes

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A wildfire raging near some of Colorado’s most popular tourist sites grew suddenly more ferocious on Tuesday, forcing 32,000 people from their homes, prompting evacuations from the U.S. Air Force Academy and swallowing numerous houses at the edge of Colorado Springs…

“This is a fire of epic proportions,” Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown said as ash drifted down on the city, sirens wailed and the thick smell of smoke permeated the air.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper flew into the city Tuesday night by helicopter to meet with fire commanders and tour the fire zone first-hand. He noted that the blaze was one of at least a dozen burning throughout the state. Four people have died in Colorado wildfires so far this year.

“This is the worst fire season in the history of Colorado,” he said during an impromptu news conference, adding that from the air he saw many homes destroyed in a glowing landscape that looked “surreal.”

The Waldo Canyon Fire, which has roared through at least 6,200 acres of dry timber since Saturday, has grabbed attention for days because of its proximity to landmarks like the famed mountaintop of Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy.

The blaze claimed its first property losses on Tuesday as wind-driven flames swept over containment lines into Colorado’s second-most populous city, consuming an unknown number of homes on the town’s outskirts as authorities hurried to evacuate residents…

The sudden closure of service stations along with other businesses, leaving fleeing motorists unable to fill up their cars, added to a sense of urgency as roads filled with traffic…Columns of vehicles carrying evacuees and hastily packed belongings stretched bumper-to-bumper for miles, crawling slowly southward out of town along Interstate 25…

Asked how quickly the fire was spreading after the latest flare-up on Tuesday afternoon, incident commander Rich Harvey said, “If I gave acreage right now, it would be wrong in five minutes. It’s growing…”

There is a quality of human behavior described as “spontaneous materialism”.

Colorado Springs is a national center, a focal point for Christian fundamentalism – especially the moralizing breed who spend their idle time advising every other living person on the planet how to live their lives. They prate about birth and death, sex and the absence of sex, they advise anyone in sight how to live their lives. They are self-important in their standards, profligate in advice about values. And in an older time I would expect to see a number of them kneeling before the approaching flames praying to their Jehovah to redirect the wildfires back upon their track of destruction.

Ain’t especially about to happen. Even folks dedicated to a religion of precedence – in a nation characterized by mediocre education – know enough not to waste their lives in what would be a foolish gesture. Foolish – if not insane. And of that I am glad.

Folks are in enough danger of losing homes and lives. They need not put responders, the brave folks risking their lives to save their fellows into greater danger to rescue nutballs who would walk into the furnace on behalf of an archaic belief system.

So, behave as any philosophical materialist would advise you and get your friends and family to safety. I’ll tease you about this – just a little – several years down the road when, hopefully, you’ve had time to resume a normal life.

WW2 1800 kg bomb forces mass evacuation of German town

An unexploded Second World War bomb is leading to the evacuation of nearly half of the population of the German town of Koblenz.

The 1,800 kilogram bomb was discovered lying in the River Rhine after falling water levels revealed its resting place.

Some 45,000 of the 106,000-strong population will be cleared from an evacuation zone 1.8 kilometres in radius in the biggest post-war evacuation in Koblenz’s history.

Local authorities will provide temporary accommodation in schools outside the danger zone for residents unable to stay with friends or family, and free shuttle buses are being laid on to transport the thousands of people forced to leave.

On Monday two Koblenz hospitals began preparing to move 200 patients and started to cancel operations. Koblenz railway station will shut down, hotels have been told to close, and the inmates of a local jail will also have to pack their bags “The extensive measures are necessary,” said Norbert Gras, a spokesman for the local fire brigade. “It’s true we are dealing with a very large bomb.”

Although discoveries of unexploded ordinance from the massive Allied aerial assault on the Nazi Reich are frequent in Germany, the Rhine bomb poses a particular challenge for explosive experts.

The bomb lies in 40 centimetres of water with parts of it buried in mud, making it difficult to access the detonation fuse. The presence of a smaller American bomb close by has also complicated matters, and set back the operation to defuse the RAF bomb till the weekend…

The low water levels in the Rhine brought on by an autumnal drought have led to a spate of discoveries of unexploded munitions left over from the war. On Sunday 1,000 people in the Rhine town of Neuwied had to leave their homes as experts defused a 500 kilogram American bomb on the banks of the river.

The gift that keeps on giving. Though this bomb was dropped on a part of the world containing the remnants of the Fascist onslaught that threatened the whole world. Our part of comparable dangers presented to civilians from the dispersion of landmines and cluster munitions – during “peacetime” – is a lot less tolerable.

An untold tale of September 11th


I’ve mentioned before that I grew up subsistence fishing on the New England coast. I come from island people – on my father’s side of the family.

Prince Edward Isle up in Canada. South Uist in the Outer Hebrides before that. And no matter what you do for a living the sea is an integral part of your life.

These are the some of the people who work on the water – who helped folks on the morning of 9/11.

Thanks, Ursarodina

We’re on the wrong side of New Mexico’s newest wildfire — UPDATED

This was the view at sunset, last night – looking just north of west at Las Conchas fire smoke plume. The wildfire grew from about 1000 acres at sunset to about 6000 acres overnight. 8-12 miles away as the raven flies.

Los Alamos National Labs are closed today as are schools and everything else in Los Alamos County. The communities of Los Alamos and White Rock started voluntary evacuations. Several smaller communities closer to the fire totaling 400 households or so were under mandatory evacuation.

The fire is within a mile of LANL boundaries, this morning – and everyone from Homeland Security to surrounding county fire departments are added to the fire crews. We all remember the fire that destroyed hundreds of home in Los Alamos several years back and hope to stop that being repeated.

Yes – it’s west of us. That ain’t good. Prevailing summer winds vary from south to west. Air quality this morning is abysmal. The smell of smoke woke me during the night. It’s settling into La Cieneguilla Valley pretty thick. I’ll have a better idea after sunrise.

We’re probably safe; but, safe doesn’t mean a whole boatload with wildfires until they’re contained. Even then, with Rocky Mountain winds – any fire can jump containment.

UPDATE: Folks who haven’t lived in the Southwest aren’t used to the numbers describing size out here. We have wildfires bigger than cities in other parts of the country. In the last 6 hours the fire has grown from 6000 to 44000 acres. Two or three dozen woodlands homes are gone. Families got out with the clothes on their back and not much else.

Backfires and burn outs appear to have blocked the fire from the two main population centers, White Rock and Los Alamos. Winds have changed again and are headed into unburned timber towards Jemez Springs. For the moment.

UPDATE 2: Los Alamos is now under a mandatory evacuation. Shifting winds, strong winds – no one’s safety can be guaranteed.

The evacuation order does not include White Rock – though residents are urged NOT to go to White Rock in case that community is added to the evacuation. Los Alamos residents are divided into three groups to aid in an orderly evacuation and the reverse 911 system is in effect making robocalls to residents to let them know when it’s time for their section of the town to evacuate. [2PM MDT, 27 June 2011]

UPDATE 3: Los Alamos is now mostly empty of residents. Streets are patrolled by local cops, state police and the national guard to prevent looting. The fire is now up to 60000 acres.

UPDATE 4: Thursday 30 June, the fire is up over 92,000 acres. The town of Los Alamos looks secure; but, the spread up Santa Clara Canyon has rocketed past anything expected and the Santa Clara Pueblo and the Puye Cliff Dwellings look to be threatened.

UPDATE 5: Monday 4 July – folks are allowed to return home to Los Alamos. The fire is still burning at the northern and southern ends. Now up over 121,000 acres.

Three tales of Libya in turmoil

Britain’s embarrassing efforts to evacuate stranded nationals from civil war in Libya were condemned on Wednesday night. The Foreign Office finally managed to load 300 Britons onto a plane at Tripoli, but only after it had borrowed the jet from BP.

The plane the Government had intended to use to evacuate Britons waited on the runway at Gatwick airport for 10 hours before taking off late on Wednesday night.

Mr Hague admitted the efforts had been a failure and said he would establish a review to investigate. Portugal, Turkey, France and the EU had already pulled out thousands of citizens…

The attempt to organise an airlift of the 540 Britons stranded in the country stumbled. The first plane the Government chartered was delayed on the runway at Gatwick with a mechanical fault.

A second was due to leave later last night and a third, if necessary, today. HMS Cumberland, a Royal Navy frigate, was on its way to the rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi to rescue Britons trapped there.

Doesn’t really build confidence in the plane-rental biz in the UK, does it?

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