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When Forest Fires Blaze, How Can We Help?

Devastating forest fires are sweeping parts of New Mexico where I live, and I've wondered what I can do to help. Other states are impacted too.


I'm not a fire fighter. The smoke would make it hard for me to breathe, and I can't carry heavy equipment or dig fire lines. Yet, I am in awe of fire fighters who put their lives on the line to save everything threatened by wildfires. Those fires are often harder to fight because of gusty spring winds and drought conditions.


Firefighters have been fighting huge fires for many weeks that continue to gobble up trees and everything in their wake, including people's homes and businesses. Several national forests in my state are barring visitors because of extreme fire danger.


National news has made the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire east of Santa Fe a familiar name. As of this morning, the fire had burned over 303,000 acres and was 34 percent contained. But hot, dry, windy conditions today made the fire even more difficult to battle.


More than 2,100 fire personnel are engaged in battling the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon flames. To date, it is the largest fire in New Mexico's history.


Many of us watch the news, read the newspapers, and wonder what we can do to help. As I think about what I can do, I realize I can't fight the fire myself. But I can be very aware of fire danger, especially in drought conditions. That means not starting campfires anywhere. If one is absolutely needed, completely extinguish it so it has no chance of flaring up later.


If I see enterprising children and adults having lemonade stands or other events to raise money for fire fighters, I can buy their lemonade and donate money to help them meet their goal. I can adopt a local fire station or volunteer fire department, find out what the firefighters need, and contribute in my small way to help meet that need. I may be able to do only one of those things, but every effort helps.


So many trees are destroyed in a fire. I can donate money to help organizations that promote planting trees. I may only be able to donate $10 or $15, but every donation helps. And it lets that organization know its efforts are valued.


There are so many ways we can assist fire fighters without fighting the fire ourselves. And there are so many ways we can help in the effort to plant more trees to replace some of the ones destroyed by fires. As you look around to see what else you might do to help, you will come up with other ways of making a positive difference.


Thank goodness for our brave firefighters. And thank goodness for all the caring citizens, like you, who do their best to help out. Together we can make a positive difference.

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