West coast Wildfires
Gila National Forest Burn Scar – May 21, 2022
“A new wildfire erupted on May 13, 2022, in the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. The state has seen more than half a million acres burned this year in early season wildland fires, and forecasters predicted conditions could worsen through the end of the month.
The Black fire began burning in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area in the Black Range, about 30 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. On May 16, the fire blew up, tripling in size from 18,000 acres to more than 56,000 acres. A blow-up is a sudden increase in fire intensity or rate of spread. The blow-up of the Black fire on May 16 produced a small pyrocumulonimbus cloud as the fire ran east and crossed the Continental Divide.
As of May 22, the Black fire had burned more than 130,000 acres, becoming the second-largest fire burning in the state. The perimeter was 8 percent contained, with more than 600 firefighters working the blaze.”
2022 Fire Outlook Video.
West Coast Fire Outlook
Most of the Southwest, southern Great Basin, and southern Colorado is forecast to have above normal significant fire potential in June, before returning to normal in July. Above normal significant fire potential is
forecast across northern California and the lee sides of the Hawai’ian Islands through September, with above normal potential spreading into the southern Sierra and Coast Ranges of southern California in August
and September. Above normal potential for central Oregon in June will expand across most of the Northwest by August, with above normal potential remaining in the Cascades and western Oregon in September. Central and eastern Montana east of the Continental Divide and much of Wyoming are forecast to have above normal potential July through
September as well. Portions of southern and eastern Idaho are also forecast to increase to above normal potential in August and September.
2020 Impacts of west coast wildfires
Wildfires destroyed homes, businesses, community centers, forests and farms. Smoke covered the region making it unsafe to be outdoors. Thousands of people were dislocated. Special needs and marginalized communities were especially hard hit. Everybody suffered to some degree.
Agencies such as the Red Cross are often the first to set up hubs where fire refugees can find immediate aid. Faith Communities may open their doors or parking lots to help people evacuating their homes. Food banks and shelters are generally quickly overrun and need extra support. County Fairgrounds are enlisted to house livestock that might be lost to fire, if they can be moved. And then, how are they to be fed? A wide variety of needs quickly become apparent during natural disasters and local action and assistance is always the first response.
How can we help?
We are utility workers, foresters, farmers, fire fighters, first responders and families. Pray for and support those engaged in our community safety and well-being. We begin at home. Reach out to neighbors who may need you. Ask for, and graciously receive, help if you need it. Another day you will be able to extend your hand to another. Ask how people are doing and what they need. Stay informed.
Disaster Response begins with you, where you are, with those God has placed you with.
Thank you for your care.
Communities of Faith
Some have had to evacuate their church properties, for fire now as well as COVID-19. Others are able to work with the Red Cross to provide food, or do so on their own, or open their parking lot for fire refugees, maybe even their buildings. In disasters we share what we have and make available what we can. This takes conversation and creativity, especially in the midst of the coronovirus pandemic. We benefit from strong relationships with other congregations, ministries, and agencies. We don’t know where the need is, or who can help, if we are not connected. In disaster we find and celebrate mission with others.
Disaster Response values the passions and possibilities faith communities offer. You are the light on the hill for those in your community.
Care begins and ends locally.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations are organized into broader communities called “synods.” Synod offices, staff and Councils exist to coordinate ministry with you in these difficult times. In addition to their usual work of call processes, consultation and visioning, Synod offices stand ready to coordinate your disaster response with that of other agencies and organizations such as Lutheran Community Services Northwest, state VOAD boards, Lutheran Disaster Response and much more.
As this disaster unfolds, Synods are anxious to hear about damage or loss you may be experiencing. They are available to consult on requests you may receive to open up your building, or needs you or your community may have. Many people are asking how and to whom they might make financial donations. Synods are able to help you with donations for local needs.
Lutheran Disaster Response looks to Synods to connect members and congregations to the boarder resources of the ELCA.
Lutheran Disaster Response
Lutheran Disaster Response deals with all the variety of major disasters citizens of our country experience. The ELCA also has an international ministry of outreach and care.
Currently Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) has a dedicated wildfires webpage offering worship resources and support. Behind the scenes, though, our national Lutheran Disaster Response ministry does so much more.
- LDR staff have are in constant communication with our Western Region Disaster Resiliency Representatives, (Contact Us), to help assess the needs and realities on the ground.
- LDR offers training, connections and experience for disaster situations.
- Through local volunteers and Synod staff LDR is present with state VOAD communities so that we might offer what we can, when we can. Coordination is always key in disaster response.
This is how Lutherans respond to disaster. Lutherans respond through individuals, congregations, and community partners. Lutherans offer immediate aid, experience and the resources of the larger church. Relief and recovery efforts are coordinated through Synods and Social Service. We do what we are able and you are vital part of this work.
Donation and information links
It is important to prepare for emergency evacuations and have a “Go Bag” in your car or other easily accessible place. Be prepared for emergencies!