NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – People who have evacuated their homes due to the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire have been forced to leave some of their belongings behind. Despite the risk of not evacuating, some people felt a duty to stay.

Carl Martinez decided to stay. His property is by Sebastian Canyon, which was just on fire. “We’re trying to protect our land, we have 3,500 acres of the Los Vigiles land grant. So a handful of members stayed back while everybody got evacuated because some of the elderly stayed back also,” said Martinez.

Carl and a handful of other land grant members stayed behind to help direct firefighters through the hills that they know so well. Carl says despite the efforts of the firefighters, the fires burned the 3,500 acres of their land grant, including his family ranch. That ranch dates back to the early 1900s.

Martinez says its a small loss compared to saving lives, but the heritage of the community makes it hard for many families to leave. So they stay to help those bringing people water and checking in, even as the hills around them continue to burn.