Burned: A Story of Resilience

Burned: A Story of Resilience

Burned: A Story of Resilience

How do you rebuild and recover after a disaster? In April 2022, Northern New Mexico was hit by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which became the largest and most destructive fire in the state’s history.  “Burned” tells the human story of how this extreme weather event affected Northern New Mexico communities and how local families and leaders are coming together to rebuild and recover in the face of climate disruption.


“Burned” features interviews from Mora County Commissioner Veronica Serna and the Gomez family from Rociada, NM in San Miguel County, which was one of the areas hardest hit by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. 


Months after the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires, Northern New Mexico communities still face many challenges. If you were moved by this video, please consider supporting the organizations below to aid in the rebuilding efforts:

more About the people

The Gomez homestead has existed in Rociada for more than 200 years. Their original ancestors were sheep farmers from Española who settled in the area after being trapped by a winter storm. Before the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, the Gomez family property included seven homes. Three were completely lost in the fire, including the original homestead and the homes of Jerry Gomez and Ty Archuleta.

Today, the Gomez family remains a strong unit, helping neighbors and communities recover from the disaster.

Jerry Gomez was a firefighter for more than 20 years, and he is currently rebuilding his home with his nephew, Dillon Archuleta, an equine dentist.

Silviano Gomez, a construction worker most of his life, is now retired and still lives and works on the property with his wife.

Veronica Serna has lived in Mora County her entire life, and in 2018, voters elected her to serve as County Commissioner At Large – Position 1. During the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires, she was instrumental in helping coordinate disaster response efforts with local, county, state, and federal officials. In November 2022 Commissioner Serna was reelected with 62 percent of the vote to serve another 4 year term. She has been married to Michael Serna for 34 years; together, they have 2 sons who now live in Albuquerque. Commissioner Serna is grateful for the support she has received from her friends and family, including her parents who live next door. She is also thankful to San Miguel County and City of Las Vegas officials for the partnerships they have created, and for all the community members who have volunteered to help in the recovery process.

“Burned” was produced by New Mexican filmmakers Jake McCook of McCook Strategies and Adam Francis Raby of PegaWhale Storytellers. Select footage via Facebook and YouTube courtesy of Dilion Archuleta, Stella Romero, Michael Maes, Kim Mares, Tera Ann Martinez, and Miguel Padilla.

Director: Jose Valdez

Executive Producer: Jake McCook

Producer: Adam Francis Raby

Associate Producer: Drew Ayotte

Cinematographers: Jan Lim & Matt Stanley

Production Assistant: Sebastian Bustos

For more information, contact Jake McCook – jake@mccookstrategies.com

If you’ve been affected by extreme weather and climate disruptions in New Mexico and want to share your story, let us know.
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