Little Bear Fire, Alto, New Mexico

On Monday, June 4, 2012, lightning struck in the Smokey Bear Ranger District, Lincoln National Forest, White Mountain Wilderness, starting what was to become the Little Bear Fire.

Not until late Friday afternoon, June 8, did we spot the tell tale smoke over the mountain toward Ski Apache on our way back from Ruidoso to Alto and Eagle Creek RV Resort on Ski Run Road.

Having dinner late Friday afternoon
Gene, Johnny, Bill & Suzanne watching the sun
go down thru the smoke.
Sun going down behind smoke
Lots more smoke
The smoke is getting thicker and things
aren't looking so good.
Flames coming over the mountain
Once it gets dark we can see the red glow
over the mountain.
Little Bear from Eagle Creek

Little Bear Fire
As the night progresses, we can see flames at
the top of the mountain.

Little Bear Fire
Then the flames top and start down
the side facing Eagle Creek.
Little Bear Fire
Little Bear Fire Little Bear Fire
Little Bear Fire

Little Bear Fire
Everyone at the park packed up and prepared rigs to be ready to roll when we got the word to evacuate.
Most of us stayed up pretty late watching,
finally getting some restless sleep.

Saturday, June 9, Terry and Rusty (co-owners of Eagle Creek) and their 2 sons came into the park around 3:45 a.m. Their home is in a subdivision about a mile from here and they woke up to flames on the opposite side of the highway. They packed up what the could and got out of there.

Saturday morning
We woke up to smoke...
Flames are close
... and flames a couple of ridges over.
Smoke getting thick
panaramic view
Gene and I walked up above the RV park for a better view.
At noon the Sheriff's Dept. came rushing into the park with their "whoop-whoops" going and ordered us out.
Terry had already made arrangements for us to go to the Ruidoso High School, and she, Rusty and their boys had us all organized and out of the park in short order. There were 25 to 30 rigs in here, some without their owners here, and they got all but a couple out of the park and to safety! Some people with 5th Wheels and dualies, removed their rigs and came back to the park for more. Some drove other people's motorhomes out.
Catching some shade
Some of us found a little shade in the parking lot of the High School while waiting for the rest to come back.
Ruidoso High School parking lot
About 10 rigs ended up with us in the
parking lot until Monday.
Watching the smoke from the high school
Watching the smoke from the HS parking lot.
Little Bear Fire
Suddenly, huge flames on the mountain top. We are maybe 20 miles away, so you can see how big they are.
Pizza delivered
Johnny, Suzanne, Bill, Gene & I called in a pizza delivery from Dominoes... they actually delivered to us!

High school parking lot
The Red Cross set up in the gym of the high school
and meals were served in the cafeteria. There are so many people who have been displaced.

At one point Gene made a few seconds on the national news. Doing what? In the FOOD LINE, of course.

Lots of smoke
We drove out to a spot about 3 or 4 miles from the RV park for a better look at things. Oh my, it is beyond anything we have ever witnessed.
Panaramic view
from the parking lot
Some of the gang visiting and making plans.

Can you believe it? Cocktail hour in the HS parking lot?

On Monday, June 11, we moved to a nice, little rv park about 15 miles north of Ruidoso Downs so we could have hook-ups. We had had enough of boondocking. The only problem with the new place was that our phones didn't work there, so the only communication with the outside was thru email.

Finally, on Thursday, June 14, we got the word we could return to Eagle Creek RV Resort the next day and that Terry's & Rusty's home was untouched by the fire!

On Friday, June 15, we returned to Eagle Creek. The park is as beautiful as ever, although the deer have eaten all the geramiums. Most other flowers are fine. There is the smell of smoke, of course. And Ski Run Road is still blocked about a half mile or so further up.

Still smoking
Gene and I once again walked up above where we are parked to see how it looked.

Beyond the next ridge just about everything is burned.

And still smoking.
View of the park At left, our bus is in the bottom, near center, with the beautiful ponderosa pines all around. It's still smoking in the background.

Sunday, June 17, we took a ride along the highway to see what damage there was.

HIGH Fire Danger!
The buildings next to this Smokey Bear sign
burned to the ground.
Neighborhood burned
A whole neighborhood burned. Where buildings burned, they burned absolutely, only crumpled metal roofs left in some cases. Oddly, there are patches of forest left standing among the burn.
Fire jumped highway
Fire jumped road in several places.

Here is a web site that you can get more info on the Little Bear Fire, and other fires that are burning across the country:

http://www.inciweb.org

The following I took the liberty of copying from the June 18 update from NPS.


 

Just another day in the life of a firefighter

Yesterday, information officers met a firefighter who was feeding cats at
an evacuated residence. Pleased with his humanitarian spirit, they struck
up a conversation. Ron Miller, the firefighter, then offered to share a
poem which he had written. I hope you all enjoy it.


Little Bear


South of the mountains
That folks call Capitan;
We battle a large blaze
According to plan.

Though “Little Bear” is the name,
This fire is assigned;
It sure ain’t that little,
Considering everything combined!

Wind and lightning joined forces,
That made a real show;
Here in the Southwest,
In New Mexico.

The spark once ignited,
Raced through brush and trees;
Up canyon slopes, through Wilderness,
Wherever it pleased.

The terrain is extremely rugged,
Making the blaze tough to fight;
Though we battled all day,
And into the night.

It reminds me of history,
That we all should know;
That others battled fire on the Lincoln,
Sixty-eight Years ago.

And found a young cub,
Hanging tight to a tree;
His feet badly burned,
As firefighters could see.

They rescued that cub,
And later sent Smokey to the national zoo;
He became a living symbol,
That everyone knew.

Here on the Lincoln,
In the Land of Enchantment and sun;
Fighting fire is historic,
The job’s rarely done.

Because the wind still blows hot,
In New Mexico;
Where that little bear was discovered,
A long time ago.

 

We send our respect and our heart felt thanks to the men and women who risk their lives as firefighers.

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