Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Residents Told to Flee as Arizona Fire Spreads

New York Times
GREER, Ariz. — There was smoke — huge white plumes of it — as far as the eye could see, so much that the majestic views of this resort community were lost and the lungs of area residents breathed it in and coughed it out. And that smoke meant that off in the surrounding hills, there was fire. The nation’s largest wildfire is just a few miles from Greer, a tiny town of log cabins nestled in the woods in eastern Arizona. Those cabins are empty now, after the authorities trudged through the smoke on Monday afternoon warning residents that the Wallow Fire, which had burned up more than 233,000 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest as of Tuesday morning, was surging their way. Residents of Alpine, Nutrioso, Bonita and other mountain communities enveloped in the smoke have received similarly urgent warnings to get out. Read More

The Horseshoe Two fire over in the Chiricahua Mountains keeps on burning and burning and burning…now over 100,000 acres.
Chiricahua Mountains … another “sky island” turned to ash The Horseshoe Two Fire has grown to over 100,000 acres as well as of late Sunday – only the fifth fire to do so in Arizona history. Over 1,000 persons are fighting the blaze, officials report, with 38 engines assisting as well. The inferno, which is also human-caused, has burned for nearly a month, injuring seven and costing nearly $28 million to fight. This fire is approximately 55 percent contained as of Sunday evening...

COMMENTARY: As you can see from the map of what has been burnt, a great majority of the Chiricahua Mountain forest lands have been burned. By the time this fire is over, the pine forest may be pretty much gone in that range. Back in the early 1960′s I spent some time at Camp Pine in the Chiricahuas…which is located below Barfoot mountain. The camp is saved (so far) but Barfoot is burned. It will probably be 100 years or more before that country looks anything like what I remember. The same story is being repeated all over the West and especially in Arizona. We have moved into a time of massive fires…major portions of the pine forest high country is gone. If this trend continues ponderosa pines will just be a memory here. Our “sky islands” will look more like barren volcanic islands. The oak forest south of Tucson are also going up in flames. We’ve had 6 fires down here this season with the Murphy Fire still going strong and headed into the Atascosa Mountains. Maybe this is a sign of global warming. Whether human caused or not, the southwest has always been experiencing climate change…swinging from wetter times tro extreme drougth. The bark beetles have not helped the situation. And neither did 100 years of aggressive fire prevention that allowed our forests to become giant dried out wood piles. Read More