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Hey pumpkins, happy Thursday!

You may have heard about the Wallow Fire, burning in the White Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Here’s what the smoke plume looked like from Albuquerque (about 4 hours away) on Wednesday afternoon:

Right around sunset every night for the last week, the winds shift and this is what downtown Albuquerque looks like:

Again, that’s smoke, not clouds.

Selfishly, I was hoping for some photogenic sunsets during this fire, but so far they have been only so-so. Here’s one with the volcanoes to the west of the city:

You can see how thick the smoke is – imagine breathing that! Here’s another photo from the same evening, a few minutes later:

Fires occur naturally in forests, caused by lightning strikes. They’re necessary to the health of a forest, because fires clear out all the underbrush that steals vital water and nutrients from the established trees.

Fires become a problem when humans are involved. More and more homes are being built in forests, and therefore threatened when a fire erupts. Forest Service officials have to find a balance between protecting people and communities and letting the fire do its job.

It’s no easy task, especially considering the size of our forests. In the West, they are vast, often mountainous regions. To clear them manually of underbrush would take about a gazillion man hours, so the Forest Service doesn’t necessarily mind wildfires. They occasionally set them themselves in what are called “prescribed burns” or “controlled burns.”

What officials and emergency personnel do mind is when the fires are caused by humans, as is the case of the Wallow Fire. I haven’t read what exactly happened, but it wasn’t a naturally sparked fire. It was more likely a careless human.

I’ve heard stories of wildfires being started by home owners who decided to burn their weed pile on a windy day because “it burns faster.” Of campers who didn’t think a few embers left in a pit could cause any harm. And of course, how many fires have been sparked by cigarettes? So incredibly dangerous and stupid.

Out-of-control fires, during dry, windy days and nights, are humbling. People are losing their homes, it’s terrible! I read that embers from the main part of the Wallow Fire are being carried three miles ahead by the wind, starting what are called spotfires. Three miles!

The best offense is a good defense. Officials in Arizona have been creating lines between the forest and the communities that are threatened. Let’s hope and pray that the fire burns itself out before anyone gets hurt or any more homes are destroyed.

People in New Mexico are being advised to stay indoors, keep the swamp coolers off (because they’ll suck all the smoke right on into your living room) and be sensible about outdoor activities given the conditions.

The fire has burned almost 400,000 acres. And the Wallow Fire isn’t the only fire burning in Arizona and New Mexico – there are several. Depending on which way the wind blows, the smoke will be with us for awhile.

If you live in a forested area, please check with your local Forest Service officials for ways you can reduce your risk to wildfires. Even if you live in an urban area, you should know your home fire safety. You should make a plan, you should keep the area around your house as clear as possible so fire can’t spread (don’t let tree limbs hang on the roof, for example, and don’t keep your wood pile right next to the house) and you should be mindful that fire crews need to be able to get in and get out of your property safely. If you don’t lift a finger on your end, they will drive right past your burning house and rescue the neighbors who’ve done their part. They don’t want to do that, of course – if you call them, they’ll be happy to give you all sorts of information about how to protect your home and your property.

No matter where on Earth you decide to create a home, Mother Nature doesn’t care. She’s gonna do what she’s gonna do. We should be concentrating on how to help each other through it all and how to appreciate being here in the first place.

I’ll be back manana with an all new Ask the Experts panel, yes, they are back. Most of them, anyway. We’ll also have a new plant puzzler for you. I’m absolutely sure I’m going to stump you all with this one so you better bring your A game. If you haven’t already, you still have time to vote on last week’s puzzler. The deadline is tonight at midnight, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST). Just leave a comment with your best guess. You have a 50-50 shot at winning imaginary prizes.

Hope to see you here!

This is a photo of the Arizona wildfire’s smoke plume, as seen from downtown Albuquerque last night at sunset. For the last two nights, the smoke has settled over the city, raining ash down like it’s snowing. The fire itself is several hours away to the south and west of Albuquerque.

My heart goes out to all those affected, including the firefighters and emergency workers.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.