Last summer, the Las Conchas wildfire erupted in the Santa Fe National Forest when a tree fell on a power line. At the time, it was the largest fire in New Mexico state history (it’s since been eclipsed by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in southern NM). The Las Conchas fire burned more than 150,000 acres.

The fire was frighteningly close to my Mom’s house in the town of Cochiti Lake.

When the family was visiting, we toured the burn area. This was the first time I’d seen the damage.

I had my point-n-shoot camera with me, I thought I’d share some photos with you.

As it happened, the Forest Service started a prescribed burn on the other side of the mountains the same day we toured the side closest to Mom’s. So the smoke you see in my photos is from that fire.

As you can see, the mountains are ravaged. In the photo above, that valley used to house Dixon’s Apple Orchard and a family home – they were partially destroyed by the fire, then completely destroyed by the floods that came later. So sad!

Charred trees for as far as the eye can see.

It was an eerie, creepy landscape.

We used to hike these mountains. Now that thought is inconceivable.

While just about everything was dead, including the cactus below:

There were signs of life, like this cactus:

They were few and far between, though. Some trees escaped the fire. Mostly everything was just dead.

It was a depressing tour.

Although, we all got a giggle out of this sign we found on our way back down the mountain:

It was hard to see what had been such a gorgeous area now bleak and lifeless. Efforts are underway to restore the trees, but it will take a long time before the forest returns.

No one was hurt during this fire. In future fires, we may not be so lucky. As more people build houses further into forested areas, the risks will increase. That’s why the Forest Service uses prescribed burns – to decrease the chance of future devastation. Let’s hope their work pays off down the road.

I’ll be back on Monday, hope to see you here.

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