Nature lovers cringe at the idea of a wildfire. Others walk by in a single moment of astonishment and then forget that it ever happened. The lightning bolt who is responsible for thousands of acres of land being scorched is long gone. What remains of it all is wasteland. On November 21st, 2007 the Ojo fire broke loose in the Manzano Mountains, Southwest of Albuquerque, NM at 3:00 am. By midday Ojo had eaten through over 3000 acres of beautiful forest, forcing tens of thousands of wildlife inhabitants and no less than 100 families to flee the area. Within days it had engulfed 7000 acres of once luscious forest, including homes, farms, and ranches which forced locals to move their livestock to holding areas away from danger. Families were dropped from wealthy homeowners to poor shelter inhabitants in a single day.
Now, nearly 2 years later, people don’t take a second glance at the fire-ruined mountains or the people who lost everything in them. What people don’t realize is that The Ojo fire left scars on the mountains and those who inhabited it. In April of this year the Manzano Mountains, once luscious and green, still wore the black blanket that covered them less than 2 years ago. It is not the end, it is merely the beginning. Life was barely beginning to push into the atmosphere that foggy day in April. Green shrubbery covered the ground under vast torched tree’s, tiny tree suckers fought their way up to someday cover the emptiness that now filled the land, creatures began making their lives anew upon crackling black tree branches on their way to being the new generation that would bring the Manzano’s back to life. Families were beginning to rebuild their homes in hopes that they would someday be able to live the life they once had.
The Ojo fire was not preventable, considering that it was a lightening strike, but most fires are. Wildfires happen too often all over the world. This provides that people are not cautious about what they do and don‘t realize the consequences of their actions. One local stated that if he had caused a forest fire that had become uncontrollable he would simply rush down and pretend he hadn't seen what had taken place to cause it. This is one of the most shocking statements you could hear in a wildfire situation. What is the purpose of putting hundreds and possibly thousands of lives in danger simply for the fun of a firework? Or leaving a campfire alone?The idea that these fires take place so often due to a serious lack in responsibility mystifies many. What we need to do is remember the damage that we can create simply by leaving a campfire alone or lighting that one firework just for fun. Remember what you can cause. Because only YOU can prevent wildfires.