Los Alamos helped the helpers as fire raged

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By Tris DeRoma

Local charity Famine to Feast made good on their promise Sunday, delivering 2,000 pounds of snacks, water and toiletries donated by Los Alamos residents and businesses to firefighters still battling the Cajete Fire in the Jemez Mountains.


As soon as the fire started Thursday, Famine to Feast began a donation drive where residents and businesses could contribute.

Two pickup trucks loaded with supplies stopped in at the La Cueva Volunteer Fire Department to drop everything off Sunday morning.

La Cueva Chief Lee Taylor welcomed the donations from Los Alamos, saying it was more than enough.

“With this quantity, we’ll share it with the other fire departments in the area,” Taylor said. “It’s obviously more than we’ll need for this incident, but we will use it for future incidents. We have lots of search and rescues we do, more fires, it will definitely be a benefit to the firefighters and the rescuers.”

The supplies will be distributed as needed to the firefighters this weekend. Helping Famine To Feast with their efforts was Smith’s, Los Alamos National Bank, Ruby K’s, Metzger’s and High Mesa Dental and Los Alamos Medical Center.

Famine to Feast founder Jaret McDonald was glad the donations they gathered from Los Alamos on such short notice will be put to good use.

“As designed, as expected,” McDonald said. “The generosity of Los Alamos has been amazing…. Its generosity has once again made a huge difference.”

“A lot of the time, the water is from storage, since they have to have these things for early fire season. The water we brought was a huge deal, because it’s fresh,” McDonald said.

Ruby K’s donated bagels, and some went to the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, which was used as an evacuation and communication center during the fire’s peak.

“In my mind, that’s what we ought to be about,” Jemez Mountain Baptist Church Pastor Eric Larson said. “Yes, we’re going to have our Sunday morning service just like we did this Sunday morning, but we’re also here as a resource for our community.”

The fire actually started right across NM 4 from the Larson’s house. Yet, when Larson’s wife, Debra, who is also a receptionist for Los Alamos Public Schools, got the news, she had no choice but go to the church and begin helping the displaced. She said there wasn’t any time to think about their house.

“We’ve been through so many of these, that we’ve prepared enough to scan the pictures, all the documents are in the safe deposit box, so, if (the house) goes, it goes,” Debra Larson said. “As long as life is preserved, we’re good.”

On Thursday, when the fire started, Debra Larson first heard about it through her neighbor, who managed to save the Larson’s pets

While things are winding down now, Eric Larson was happy to open the doors of the church to the community when it most needed it. Larson, who is also an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, built and founded the church 10 years ago. It was also designed for these types of situations. It was built with bathrooms, showers and a washer and dryer. The church helps out during the Las Conchas and Thompson Ridge Fires.

“If we had to, if we’re doing what we’re doing now, we can take care of people,” Eric Larson said.

He and his family became evacuees Friday morning. For the past week people had  been dropping off food, water, anything the evacuees needed. Besides the evacuees, the church was handing out food and water to the firefighters.

“The last thing I need is the guy that’s defending my house to be hungry,” Eric Larson said.

Thursday night, the church had 10 people spend the night, Friday night 17, and last night, 14.

“The outpouring from the community has been unbelievable. We have not had a need for anything,” Eric Larson said. “People would call and say ‘I’m at Costco. What do you need.’”

The fire became a “Type 1” fire yesterday, meaning the federal government can pull in as many resources as it wants as far as food, drinking water and other resources are concerned. The 1,300-acre fire is now 85 percent contained, as of Tuesday.

To learn more about Famine to Feast, log onto faminetofeastnow.org. To learn more about the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, visit jemezmbc.org.