Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Forest Fires and Natural Gas Don't Mix

Just north of Las Vegas, NM a large forest fire, the Track fire, is burning. The last time I checked it was only 5% contained. Forest fires are devastating on many fronts and, most of the time, it seems the devastation is confined to only the area of the fire.

Well, this is certainly not the case. The Wallow fire in Arizona has been sending a smoke plume over large distances, effecting the health of thousands and even forcing some aircraft to change course. The same fire also threatened the electricity grid as far east as Texas. The Track fire has closed the interstate between Raton, NM and Trinidad, CO. It has also wreaked havoc on natural gas lines.

According to this report, the fire burned gaskets on one of the pipeline valves, shooting a  15-foot plume of fire into the air. This has alarmed gas company officials who are planning to shut off the gas to the town of Raton. It is possible that this shut off could impact service here in Las Vegas, about 100 miles away and at all points in-between. I've been thinking about the implications of this for people and businesses who have gas stoves and hot water heaters. Could the quality of care be effected in hospitals and nursing homes? What about the need to maintain a clean environment in restaurants?

If the gas is shut off here, we were told the only thing effected will be the hot water heater. Luckily we can take cold showers and use the coffee pot to make hot water (or the electric stove).

For those who have solar hot water and electricity off the grid, they'll be cooking and cleaning just fine. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come.


Chile said...

The Monument fire in the Sierra Vista, AZ, area burned 40 homes (million dollar plus homes!) yesterday. The next few days are red flag days with 40-50 mph sustained winds and 4% humidity predicted. I have friends there under pre-evacuation alerts who may lose their homes.

80+ years of fire suppression, the spring freeze which killed lots of vegetation, and the dry season are all adding up to devastating fires in the Western US. It's gonna be a rough year.

Hope you fare okay through the situation there!

Desert Lean-to said...

So far, so good here in LV. I think (at this point) we're far enough away from *this* blaze. We're experiencing high winds and red flag days, too. It is certainly going to be a rough hear in the Western US.

I hope your friends fare well, too. Fingers crossed.