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Read about the Cerro Grande Fire from the people who lived it

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By Special to the Monitor

Local author Terry Foxx will sign “Touched by Fire,” her most recent compilation of community stories about the Cerro Grande Fire, and her illustrated children’s book, “The Forest and the Fire,” from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at Otowi Station Bookstore.

This book records the experience, journals and poetry of nearly 50 people 10 years after the fire. “Touched by Fire” is the outgrowth of a compilation in 2000 called “Lest We Forget.”

In “Touched by Fire,” diverse people contributed: those evacuated, those who lost homes, those who had just moved to Los Alamos before the fire, community workers and those new to the community.

Most compelling are the stories of six young people who were students at Mountain Elementary School and their perspective 10 years later.

John Hains who had just moved to Los Alamos 10 months before the Cerro Grande Fire, said, “Reading Terry Foxx’s book is a good way to mark the 10th anniversary of the Cerro Grande Fire.

“Rich in information, it helps us to understand and put our lives in perspective.

He added, “It was written with the touch of a storyteller, with warmth, humor, and kindness, but also from the experience of a scientist who can clearly explain the how and why of a tragedy that touched the lives of everyone who lived through the fire and evacuation. Most importantly it covers the many steps toward recovery leaving the reader with a sense of hope and optimism.”

Mary Smith, who was gone from the community at the time of the fire because of a funeral, said, “When something huge happens to your hometown and you are someplace else and you are worried sick about what’s really happening at home, you feel a deep, black hole in your being. Fortunately, through Terry’s books ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘Touched by Fire,’ that hole has been filled.

“It is so incredible to read of people’s experiences and to learn of the Earth’s signs of recovery. I am left with a feeling of hope and a realization that although our community has undergone great change, it is still ours, and we still love it.”

“This is a story that needs to be told and must never be forgotten,” Lou and Jerry Williams said. “It reminds us of the great love that God has put in all of our hearts. And it reminds us that there is tremendous good in our country, even though at times it may not seem like it.

“We’re thankful that we live in this country and here in Los Alamos. ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘Touched by Fire’ are among our treasures.”

The compilation of stories has limited distribution. It may be obtained at Otowi Station and from Terry.