Benefit, information fair held for victims of Dog Head Fire

TIJERAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Two months after a massive wildfire that devastated neighborhoods in the East Mountains, a community is still pulling together to help each other recover. Saturday a benefit was held for those most in need by neighborhood store owners.

“It’s very important because they’re our neighbors,” said Ernest Gonzales, owner of the Ten Points General Store in Tijeras. “It was horrible, they’ve lost their land, they’ve lost their homes, some of them even lost their pets.”

The Dog Head Fire burned nearly 18,000 acres and a dozen homes.

Saturday, Gonzales and others put on a raffle, an auction, with burgers and live music all to help his neighbors in need.

“To show them that they’re not alone,” Gonzales said, adding those affected by the fire also need resources.

“This event is great because it comes directly from the community and it’s neighbor helping neighbor,” Eliza Kretzmann, New Mexico State Forestry Division explained.

Neighbors like Angie Sensening and Michelle Williams, who both volunteered at the benefit.

“It was a very scary fire. I think it was the worst fire we ever had,” Sensening said.

Taking time out of their day to lend a hand.

“I was evacuated for over a week,” explained Williams.

They say the fire brought the community closer together.

“It’s frightening to think that it could be your house and then to actually see someone that you know lose their house, it’s heartbreaking,” Williams said.

They say they saw neighbors helping one another, everyone having each other’s back.

“I’ve lived here 33 years and I think this was the closest and the scariest fire there was,” Sensening explained.

Even two months later, this community’s support system stands strong.

“And even if we didn’t make any money today the idea is that they’re thought of and they’re in our thoughts so that they know they’re not just forgotten,” Gonzales explained.

In late June the Forest Service announced a machine called a masticator used to thin forest lands caused the fire.

They said there was no criminal wrongdoing by the project workers.

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