Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Evacuating from a Wildfire

By Kathryn Lane

I love the mountains in northern New Mexico. Nature in this area constantly surprises me with beautiful vistas, wildflowers, and above all, the wild animals. We have elk, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, several varieties of birds, Cooper hawks, and bears. Occasional wild cats and mountain lions also roam the area. I’m mesmerized by the herds of elk and their calves. 

For some writers, the beach inspires them. For me, the mountains clear my brain and let my creativity flow. This year our normally peaceful mountain hideaway proved that nature can also be terrifying. A horrific wildfire started when controlled burns in the Gallinas Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest near Las Vegas, NM, got out of hand and turned into the most destructive wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

In May, evacuations began very close to where we live. We could see the flames beyond the mountains in front of our cabin and the smoke was so thick, we decided to pack up and leave. What to take with us became an issue. Essential articles that we need for any trip is a given. Emergency items came next. After that, it’s a conflict between sentimental items, such as paintings, and what we could fit into our vehicle.

Two years ago, I’d given my husband, Bob, a bathrobe for the cabin. He lost it after forgetting it on a trip last year. He’d spent at least two months searching online for a replacement. For two months he grumbled about the bad selection, grim colors, wrong fabric, incorrect length, and lack of styling.  He finally ordered one and it arrived two days before we evacuated. A thick, heavy terrycloth robe, I put it in the car.

He immediately asked why we needed to take it.

“We’ll survive the evacuation,” I said, “but I can’t get through two more months of you hunting for another bathrobe.”

Thankfully, we are back in our beloved mountains and our cabin survived just fine.

I’d decided, before the wildfire started, to place my next Nikki Garcia mystery in New Mexico.

Now I’m wondering if I should include a wildfire in the mix to complicate the plot. One thing is for sure, Bob’s bathrobe will not be a part of the story! Or maybe a bear will eat the robe!


Postscript: The fire is no longer a threat, but for many families who lost their homes, their struggle is far from over.


Kathryn's Nikki Garcia Mystery Series - on Amazon

Amazon Paperback - https://www.amazon.com/dp/173328270X/

Amazon eBook - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084GSGSRX/


Kathryn Lane started out as a painter in oils and quickly became a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.

Visit my website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

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Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial and/or educational manner

Elk and their Calves by Kathryn Lane

Firefighter – Taos News

Brown Bear by Kathryn Lane

Covers for the Nikki Garcia Mystery Series – Heidi Dorey designs for Tortuga Publishing, LLC

Photo of Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt


  1. So sorry you've had to contend with wildfires. Those and hurricanes grab my attention more than almost anything, and I totally understand the bathrobe symbolism.

    1. Saralyn, for those of us who in Texas, hurricanes are truly bad news. But for Galveston residents, the risk is magnified exponentially.
      And thanks for understanding the bathrobe symbolism!
      I'm looking forward to the event in September!


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