The Rainbow Sign

Whether the Southwest is in the worst drought in a generation, a century or a millenium, it’s no surprise that we’re also in the worst fire season in at least a decade. The National Interagency Fire Center has the dismal numbers as well as an interactive map. So far this year 29,827 wildfires have burned 2,7 million acres, well above the 10-year average of 23,070 fires over 1.1 million acres.

The photo is by the Albuquerque Journal’s Eddie Moore, part of that paper’s photo coverage of the devastating Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon blaze. New Mexico’s largest recorded wildfire, that conflagration has charred more than 325,000 acres since April 6 and is still only 70% contained.

While Calf Canyon is attributed to a pile burn “sleeper” or “holdover” fire that smouldered under the snow since January, Hermits Peak was a Forest Service prescribed burn that was blown out of control by unexpected high winds. But ultimately both these fires and the others burning across the West can be blamed on decades of misguided forestry.

It’s ironic (and perhaps prophetic) that the FS is flying the “Pride Flag” this month, since the rainbow banner doesn’t just celebrate diversity but also recalls the divine promise in an old spiritual:

God gave Moses the rainbow sign
No more water, but fire next time