Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flames, Dynamite, and Death in the Chama Valley

Very little remains of the Rutheron Store, which was still smoking three days after the fire.

This Friday afternoon, travelers trying to reach the Chama Valley via US 84 from the south faced long delays and enormous traffic jams followed by many miles of detours. A state police lieutenant, head of the department's explosive ordnance disposal squad, was traveling south after taking care of explosive business in Chama, when his vehicle rolled and he died. There may have been a concern about explosives in his vehicle, which may have made vehicle recovery and the accident investigation much more difficult, hazardous, and time consuming.

This past Wednesday, we lost another local landmark. The hard winter storms had already damaged homes and other structures, including collapsing the roof of the local grocery store and a local church. Now we've lost another building, one that might not every be replaced. The Rutheron store had been a local gathering place near Heron Lake for many decades. Wednesday night it had been the sight of a social card game. Later that night, the structure burned and was a complete loss. The store was on the property of Bill Ross, a long-time supporter, member, and officer of the New Mexico Sailing Club and the Friends of Heron and El Vado Lakes. This was a multiple loss, because Bill had been battling the effects of a stroke and had been hoping to get his Ericson sailboat in the water this summer. But, the boat was directly behind the store and it was burnt and ruined. A large part of the New Mexico Sailing Club's library had been stored in the Rutheron Store and some of it may be irreplaceable, though this is the least of our worries.

One better piece of news is that it appears the Chama Valley Supermarket, whose roof collapsed during the heavy snows this winter, has gone ahead with demolition and site clearing. This might mean that re-construction, which had been delayed by paperwork and bureaucracy (FEMA, not known for its efficiency, and other agencies), is back on track. After the heavy winter storms, the area had been declared a disaster area by the state's governor, Bill Richardson.

The remains in the back center of the photo were once Bill and Elaine's sailboat, the Ericson 25+ "Sarah Nelson".

A few days ago this was a gorgeous Ericson sailboat. The resin burnt, leaving only scorched fiberglass and twisted and broken metal.


Post a Comment

<< Home