Albuquerque East Mountains primed for wildfire disaster

From - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - There is potential for another wildfire disaster like the Little Bear fire near Ruidoso - and it's right in Albuquerque's backyard, in the Sandia and Manzano mountains east of the city. The East Mountain area is what foresters call an "urban interface" - the place where civilization meets the wildernress. When enough people move into a heavily forested region, the risk of catastrophic wildfire goes through the roof. Think Ruidoso. Think Los Alamos. Think East Mountains, where thousands of people live in the cool upland forests, with their houses surrounded with trees and brush. In a prolonged drought like this one, it's like living between a blowtorch and a barrel of gasoline. "We basically have our mountain surrounded with homes," said Sunbear Vierra of the Sandia Ranger District, a fire management specialist for the U.S. Forest Service. "We look at it as a high probability that there will be a lot of damage done if something happens and if a wind event does take place." All it would take is a breeze and a spark. The fine fuels on the forest floor are more than ready. On a visit to Pine Flats picnic area south of Tijeras we found three fairly fresh cigarette butts in the dry pine needles under a tall Ponderosa. Read more



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