As a resident of Los Alamos, I remember that smoke plume looking like a hand reaching up to the heavens as we evacuated, feeling helpless to do anything about it. I remember watching the destruction of homes on the news, feeling as if it were unlikely that we would be able to return to a town at all. I remember the Los Alamos Fire Department working long hours to fight the Cerro Grande fire while the other fire crews deemed it too dangerous to stay. It is because of the LAFD that most of the houses in the city were saved, and many of the firemen fought to save the houses of their neighbors while their own house burned to the ground.
This photograph was taken in March of 2011. Eleven years later the hillside is still barren. This fire taught firemen everywhere how to fight wildfires more efficiently. Because of the mistakes made here, homes were saved from the Wallow Fire in Arizona and then from the Las Conchas Fire in these same mountains in June of 2011. Indeed it is true that from all bad, good is born.
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