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Woman recalls Dog Head Fire one year later

Brittany Costello
June 16, 2017 10:15 PM

TIJERAS, N.M. – It’s easy to spot if you head out to the East Mountains – thousands of acres still black.

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One year ago, the Dog Head Fire forced hundreds of people from their homes and destroyed dozens of structures.

The National Forest Service announced Thursday that the entire burn scar is not off limits. The purpose is to protect public health and safety while rehabilitation activities are underway, according to a press release.

Those rehabilitation efforts consist of things like cleaning up the area of some of those dead trees. But as they do that, the Cajete Fire is bringing back some of those painful memories of waking up in the middle of the night, to a home full of smoke.

“I’m getting chills just thinking about it,” said D’Anne Smith, a resident who voluntarily evacuated for the Dog Head Fire.

Just driving past the smoke of the burning El Cajete Fire triggers a flood of emotions for Smith.

“It brings it back,” she said. “It brings back the anxiety, the wondering of how you're going to manage.”

Smith said it seems just like yesterday when she was forced from her home.

“It was the middle of the night,” she said. “It was dark; the sky was glowing red at the time.”

With few belongings and her many animals, the sight of smoke brought her back to the shelter, where she helped during the two weeks she was without a home.

Now her mind is with the many going through the very same thing Friday.

“I think about the people that live in there,” she said. “I don't know how populated it is, but I think about what they are going to have to go through.”

Though the trees are still bare and black, new life can be seen as greenery fills what used to be charred ground. It’s a sign for Smith that, one day, the burned area will be restored.

She has just one message for those going through the same thing.

“Appreciate the fireman the people that are working tirelessly to make sure you have a place to come home to,” Smith said.

All National Forest System lands, roads, and trails described below will be closed: 

Forest Road (FR) 260, FR 261D2, FR 261D1A, FR 261D3, FR 261D1, FR 263, FR 263A, FR 263D, FR 261D1, FR 263DC, FR 263D2, FR 263DB, FR 321, FR 321AE, FR 525, FR 525C, FR 525D, FR 525F, FR 525GFR, FR 1157.

The burn scar is off

limits until June 30, 2019, according to the National Forest Service.

Credits

Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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