Were you affected by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire? We want to hear from you.

By: - March 2, 2023 5:05 am
Chiminea at burned cabin near Rociada, after the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire

A chiminea sits Feb. 8 amid the rubble of a cabin burned by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire. The fire, which burned more than 340,000 acres, was the biggest in the state’s history. (Photo by Patrick Lohmann / Source New Mexico)

Eric Maestas didn’t have much time to spare on an afternoon in April when he stepped out of the old Memorial Middle School gymnasium with an armful of food, water and an extra pair of slippers. 

The supplies were for his parents, waiting for him at a nearby campground. They’d been evacuated from their Cleveland home, threatened by what was becoming the biggest wildfire in New Mexico history. His parents were elderly, his father on oxygen. They feared their home had been consumed by flames. 

Yet Maestas took a few moments to tell me, a reporter he didn’t know, what it was like to flee that home, that land, that village full of history and memories. 

“Everybody was panicking,” he said, placing the slippers on top of boxes in the back seat of his sedan. “They shut down all the electricity. They shut down all the cellphones. There was nothing. And everybody was fighting to get gas and get out of there. It was pretty crazy.”

To many of you, this story is familiar. As a reporter with Source New Mexico, I’ve relayed similar tales about this disaster dozens of times since that Saturday afternoon in April. If you’ve read stories about the fire in the Las Vegas Optic, you’ve probably seen my work.

Help us investigate the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire

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Across more than 100 articles Source New Mexico has published since that first day, we’ve kept elected officials and state and federal agencies aware that the crisis here is still unfolding. With your help, we’ve revealed how the Forest Service barely met its own requirements for one of the prescribed burns, how the Federal Emergency Management Agency delayed aid for acequias — the waterways that have irrigated the land for generations — and how FEMA denials for housing aid have hurt families

In order to hold the federal government accountable for how it is handling a crisis it sparked, I need to hear from you about how things are going. If you’ve got a few minutes, please reach out. 

I was born and raised in New Mexico. I recently moved to Las Vegas to dedicate all of my time to speaking to my new neighbors about the fire, the flood and the aftermath. I’ve partnered with ProPublica, a national nonprofit news organization that has provided resources and expertise to help me investigate the government’s response to the fire. I want to speak with as many of you as I can about what you’ve been through, whether you’ve gotten what you need and how the government has handled this.

The people working on this project are not lawyers, contractors or consultants who stand to make a profit off this disaster. We are journalists who will listen to you and investigate what happened.

Can you help Source New Mexico and ProPublica investigate the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire? Please fill out the form below:

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard.