“Mommy, there is a fire by my window,” your 5-year-old daughter says as she shakes you out of a deep sleep. It is 1 a.m. and you struggle to gain your senses. As you rise, you can see the yellowish glow of wildfire outside your home, which is located near an overgrown forest.
Your husband is away, but you know what to do – get in the car and go. But as you fetch your 7-year-old son, you notice that the fire has engulfed the driveway.
A chill encompasses your body as you realize that you have not removed brush and trees from around your home, and with its well-oiled wood siding and decks, you are inside a tinderbox. You will have to escape on foot through the back door and into a dark forest, a path you never considered. You did not prepare and you are running for the lives of your family.
Think it can’t happen? Think again. It is happening in California now. Closer to home, much of New Mexico’s forests are heavily overgrown, and many homes and ranches are perilously positioned among high-fuel areas. This spring is projected to be warm and very dry, with heightened fire danger – ideal conditions for the imaginary case above where dry lightning sparked a fire that quickly spread into a private area before authorities could react.