Santa Fe community participates in wildfire evacuation exercise

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SANTA FE, N.M. — On Saturday, a community outside of Santa Fe prepared and simulated what could happen if a wildfire sparked near their homes.

“We’re doing an exercise that we’ve been planning for six months,” said Camilla Bustamante, a Santa Fe County commissioner. 

An exercise through the Santa Fe County’s Office of Emergency Management showed everyone just what to do when a wildfire breaks out.

And, this specific community – right outside of Santa Fe – faced a real fire back in 2020.

“A spark started in the Bosque area here, and it sustained, and we know what’s happening all over the country,” said Bustamante. 

This not only prepares the fire department on what to do, but this helps people in the community learn how to react in the case of this emergency. 

“We saw what happened to the community up in Mora and Las Vegas last year, and we just want to make sure we’d prevent that from happening to any other communities,” said Angelique Angel De Nava, an exercise volunteer. 

The wildfire exercise tackled multiple angles, for example, simulating a real fire with smoke to respond to. 

Other officials staged a “command post” to monitor weather conditions and other duties.

Plus, the surrounding community volunteered, they evacuated their homes and met with organizers, asking questions and taking note on what to do.

Not many people have been a part of an event like this.

“This is the first one we’ve really had at least in the last 10 years,” Bustamante said. 

With practice like this, one resident hopes other communities try this out too.  

“Any community that’s interested in doing it should reach out to their county fire and get their community involved,” said De Nava.