In Patagonia, that ultimate wild frontier at the end of the world, the arrival of summer used to come as a blessing. Snow receded. Lakes filled with fresh, clear snowmelt. The landscape came alive with color.
Recently, though, summer has become a cause for fear. A series of fires last March nearly devoured La Comarca Andina, a fairy-tale forest in the Patagonia Mountains of Argentina. Along the 42nd parallel, the fires burned through more than 54,000 acres in just a few days. Three people died. Three hundred houses burned.
Jesus Olmos remembers awakening to a horrific noise and the smell of smoke. He walked outside to find the surrounding forest an inferno. Gas tanks at nearby homes exploded like bombs, and a