LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Just 12 miles away from Hermits Peak, Jane Lumsden is watching the destructive fire unfold right before her eyes. Her house in San Miguel County – which she designed, built, and made countless memories in – burned down the day after her area was set to “GO” status.
“We’re fortunate because we have insurance,” said Lumsden. “It doesn’t pay for the forest and the loss of that happy place for us. By the time my daughter-in-law left at 2 o’clock, our house was gone.”
“I don’t even think the firefighters had a chance to do anything defendable in that area,” said Lumsden.
Lumsden and her husband weren’t able to give their home a last goodbye, but she says knowing is better than wondering. “At least we know our house has been burned but there is [sic] plenty of other people that are sitting back and waiting to hear if their places are still there,” said Lumsden.
Since they got back, they’ve been able to stay at a friend’s Airbnb but as the fire grows, even that is up in the air. “The place we are living now is on “SET” so we have our bags just packed,” said Lumsden.
As much as it hurts to see homes lost, the loss of land and natural beauty in that community is what’s breaking Lumsden’s heart.
“Hermits Peak is like a natural monument for all of us,” said Lumsden. “Looking out towards Hermits Peak, all you see is just huge black swaths of land that has been burned, so it’s a devastation for this area that it’s never seen before.” said Lumsden. Heartbreaking for anyone who calls northern New Mexico home. “To lose the mountain, to look back and see that just every single tree is gone – it was just devastating,” said Lumsden.
As countless donations pour in, and hundreds of people all over the state step in to help, Lumsden is grateful. “It’s these relationships and this community that I think is holding everyone together,” said Lumsden. “Las Vegas is strong, it’s gonna come back,” said Lumsden.
And hopeful for the future, despite believing the beauty of Hermits Peak won’t make a full comeback in her lifetime.