May, 2000: what was supposed to be a controlled-burning fire in Bandelier National Monument (home to the Anasazi ruins and close to Los Alamos) was lit by the U.S. Park Service. It rapidly grew out of control, which caused the evacuation of more than 25,000 people, the destruction of 260 homes, and the gutting of more than 48,000 acres of New Mexico. Known as the Cerro Grande fire, it was one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history.

Roy Weaver, the former superintendent of Bandelier National Monument and the man responsible for the program, had this to say:

I don’t want to deny our responsibility for igniting the prescribed fire. But we did it with a plan that seemed valid and workable. Things happened that we couldn’t or didn’t anticipate. And that we couldn’t control.

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. The more closely I read that statement, the more in-awe I am of it.

Something to think about as we begin a new year.


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