ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was in Albuquerque Monday morning meeting with victims of the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire—a pair of wildfires caused by federal crews.
“I lost everything. I lost my home; I lost my machines, we lost some cattle. We lost some horses. Stuff is taken; huge. Saddles. Everything that we worked for a long time for years and years is gone,” says Jerry Gomez of Rociada, New Mexico.
The devastating effects of the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fires, which were started by prescribed burns, didn’t stop when they were finally put out. Monday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi heard from a roundtable of people affected by the wildfires about their continuing concerns. “There is a recognition that this was avoidable, and that makes it shameful, but that makes it all the more reason for us to learn from it immediately,” Pelosi says.
Speaker Pelosi was joined by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez and local officials from the wildfire area to hear about concerns ranging from reforestation to water and air quality. “When a disaster strikes, of course, there’s an obligation that the government has to meet the needs of the people,” Pelosi says.
Officials pointed out how they are working to fix the long-term problems: “We discussed, of course, the Hermits Peak Calf Fire Assistance Bill by which we hope to bring healing and payment for the loss of income and homes and business and what that would mean and how that’s important,” Leger Fernandez says.
Pelosi says they need to meet people’s needs in a quick and equitable way and make it easy to access this help. “So it’s about time, everything’s about time, and it’s about time we do this right. And that’s not what happened with the park service with this fire.”
People who attended hope the stories they shared at the roundtable make a difference on Capitol Hill. “We can’t give up,” Gomez says. Both Pelosi and Leger Fernandez say they are about to introduce a continuing resolution to address these needs, and will compensate fire victims in full.