V.20 No.26 |
Elise Kaplan


Another reason not to smoke

Yesterday, the Arby's on Tulane and Central added a new scent to the olfactory bouquet of hash browns, bacon and coffee.

Charred wood and smoke, with a hint of atmospheric heat to alight all senses.

Happily, the building didn't burn down and no one was hurt.

The smell originates from a case of local carelessness after a woman in her twenties flicked her cigarette butt into the shrubs, says Jeffrey Baca, the general manager of the Nob Hill Arby's.

“The whole thing went up in such a roar it wasn't even funny,” he says. “It burned up in a matter of seconds.”

Employees of the nearby Starbucks and Staples called the fire department, and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

Baca says rather than flee the scene the woman stayed to watch events unfold. While she took in the sights, she smoked another cigarette, he adds. The police deemed her liable and brought her to jail.

The only casualty, a rectangular Arby's sign, costs at least $1,200, Baca says, plus expenses for the wiring.

“It sucks because now we have to get new landscaping,” he says.



A fire as big as ...

Maybe it's just me, but acres don't mean a whole lot to me. Numbers and statistics fly over my head, and what I really want is for someone to say “that means HUGE.”

The Las Conchas fire, 12 miles south of Los Alamos, is HUGE. Almost twice as HUGE as the Cerro Grande fire in 2000. It's grasping at the coattails of the 2003 Gila National Forest fire to become the HUGEST fire in New Mexico history.

HUGE adds up to 92,735 acres of wildfire.

One acre is roughly the size of a football field, including both end zones. There are 640 acres in a square mile. The Las Conchas fire covers at least 145 square miles. Albuquerque is only 181 square miles.

Winds can reach 40 mph. That's faster than you can drive on Central with a cop watching.

The firefighters have the area 3 percent contained. “Contained” in firefighter-speak means they've cleared areas ahead of the fire, hoping it will run out of fuel and burn itself out. Three percent is the sip of beer you leave at the bottom of your pint glass when you slide it across the bar for a refill.

Evacuations cleared out Los Alamos and surrounding areas. Thirteen homes have fallen prey to flames, and three more were damaged. Although a small football-field-size fire broke out at Los Alamos National Laboratory it was quickly extinguished without causing any damage.