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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fire Season

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(The Hardy Fire, Saturday, June 19, 2010 taken from Sinagua High School)
It's
so sad that Flagstaff has a fire season.  While we were saturated
with snow during the winter months, it didn't seem to do much to
alleviate a terrible fire season.  I can only liken it to the year
that Mount Elden burned.

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(photo from the Cline Library here)
The
Radio Fire on Mount Elden happened in 1977.  And yeah, this is the
view I remember from our house.  I remember calling my mom at work
& screaming that the fire was coming towards us...about a hundred
times, I'm sure (had to have freaked her out!).  I remember
watching trees explode...seeing bursts of flames...it was
horrible.  And if you've lived in Flagstaff for any time, you'll
see that the Radio Fire had a devastating effect on Mount Elden.
It's still relatively barren...scarred...and it's been more than 30
years.

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(photo from the Cline Library here) The view from the Radio Shack on 4th Street's parking lot. (check out those cars!)
It was started by kids...it threatened many neighborhoods...and to a 10 year old, it was scary as hell.

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(photo from the Cline Library here)
And honestly, until this weekend, I hadn't seen anything as bad. 
On Saturday, we had the Hardy fire.

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(Sinagua Heights subdivision with the slurry plane by Don Mead)
The
Hardy fire was swift.  It started from an unattended campfire that
a transient was using to cook his food (he's been arrested).
There's a reason that Flagstaff has one of the toughest camping
ordinances in the country...hello...we're surrounded by
trees!  Within a very short time, Little America Hotel, Harold
Ranch Road & Sinagua Heights were evacuated.  My neighborhood
was placed on evacuation notice.  And I have to toot my daughter's
horn:  when she found out we would possibly have to evacuate, she
took it upon herself to pack clothes, pet food & medication,
toothbrushes...even clean underware...she got everything ready.  I
am so proud of her!  (this is the same girl who told me yesterday
"um, mom, if you want me to do chores, you should put the list somewhere
I might see it" (out in the open on the kitchen counter is apparently
not where one would find a chore list).

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(I'm sorry but I don't know where I got this...if you know, I'm happy to credit you)
Luckily,
we did not have to evacuate.  But the smoke & ash were quite
heavy & my husband decided that we should take the animals (3 dogs
& 1 ticked off cat) to my mom's house for the night.  Better
not to breath in all that smoke.

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(Sinagua Heights while they were evacuating.  That's my little MINI Cooper up on the right.)
Then
on Sunday, as we were having Father's Day lunch at Picazzo's on the
patio, we noticed some smoke coming up from behind Mount Elden.
Just a wisp.  By the end of lunch...what, maybe an hour?  It
looked like this...

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(view from downtown Flagstaff)
And
as many of you know, the Schultz fire continued (and continues to
grow).  Right now, it's at 14,500 acres.  Wednesday morning it
was 14,000 acres, so the fact that it only grew 500 acres is amazing!
The Schultz fire was started by an unattended camp fire.  Whomever
caused it hasn't been found, but I suspect that they are sick with
guilt.  Can you even imagine?  I can't.  I just can't.

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(view from my street in East Flagstaff)
A
funny thing happened with these fires....I became addicted to
Twitter.  I've been bemoaning that Twitter was just not
useful.  A waste of time.  Well, I'm here to tell you that we
had blow by blow details of these fires...so much so, that we all became
obsessed.  We wanted every speck of information we could
find.  Being native to Flagstaff, we have friends who live where
the fire is.  Our nephew & his family were evacuated.
Bridget & Sherry (who work for AM&M) live across the street from
the fire.  The animal shelter is out there. 

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(photo from my husband's cell phone...right at the fire line)
Anyway...I
learned how to use hashtags...you know, the #.  And that if you
put #flagstafffire or #schultzfire into the Twitter search bar, everyone
who was talking about it came up.  There were unbelievable
photos...photos I would never have otherwise seen.  And check out this time lapsed video of the fire here.  Found it on Twitter.  And I even uploaded my own photos to Twitter.
My
friend Mike, who watched Mount Elden burn right along with me when we
were kids, asked the other day if this fire were more or less scary
because of technology.  I'd have to vote for just a little
less.  "Back in the day" information was scarce.  As kids, we
really & truly felt that the Radio Fire was coming to get us.
We didn't know any better.  Now with technology, information is
right there at our fingertips.  People from all over Arizona sent
their photos to the news stations...to the paper...to Twitter.
Blow by blow details.  But I do have to say, technology made it so
some of us (me included) could not step away from the computer.  We
had to have every last bit of information.  It was our families,
friends, and livelihoods on the line. 
What are your thoughts? 

3 comments:

  1. Wow - this brings it right back! Twice in the last few years we have
    had very close fires. Friends lost their home in one (had maybe 10
    minutes to grab possessions) and almost everyone I know was evacuated in
    the other. Both times all the schools were closed for a week due to
    the smoke and bad air. We have been spared, but we don't take this for
    granted. It can happen at amy time and will again, no doubt. We always
    have to be vigilant and aware of where things that we may need to pack
    and take with us. It's very sobering. Glad you didn't have to evacuate
    and I hope the worst is over!!
    P.S. I'm still not doing twitter!

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  2. I was wondering if you guys had been affected. I'm glad you didn't have
    to evacuate though. I guess owning a paper store makes you even more
    wary of fires. haha get it? Sorry...too soon?

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  3. hey kristen! glad you guys didn't have to evacuate, after all.
    the uncredited photo was taken from mars hill, and i've seen it in two
    places online. the first place i saw it was at azdailysun.com, then i
    saw it again as an ireport on cnn...
    know what you mean when you say that you knew the fire was coming to get
    you. an hour into the schultz fire, there was little information
    available anywhere, yet, and the view from our driveway had it coming
    over the mountain at us any minute. packed a bug-out bag and drove
    around a little bit, trying to get a feel for where it was, where it was
    headed. photos up on my blog soon.
    spent the last week working with scca at their evacuated location. i
    LOVE how flagstaff comes together to meet crisis.

    ReplyDelete