It is fast becoming the worst fire season ever for Arizona. There are currently three major fires burning: The Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona, which has consumed 444,000 acres and is only 10% contained, the Horseshoe Fire in the southeastern part of the state which has burned 134,000 acres, and a new one that started at 1:00 pm yesterday in the Huachuca Mountains in Sierra Vista, very close to where I live and very dear to all of us. They’re now calling it the Monument Fire because it’s in the Coronado National Monument system, but the park is officially called Coronado National Memorial here.
I had to take a foster cat to Sierra Vista today to be spayed, and I waited to pick her up at my friend Janice’s house near Sierra Vista. We watched the mountains burning from her yard. We saw many people who had to evacuate driving by with trailers full of horses. The smoke is very bad and everybody’s faces are swollen and noses are running. This is nothing compared to what the animals who live in the forests must endure. The various ranges of Coronado National Park are comprised of “sky islands,” each an ecosystem unto itself. The animals that live in the various systems, called ecotones, cannot survive in another system.
I picked up the cat and on my way home I stopped a few times to take pictures. Many roads are are blocked by border patrol and police. I talked to some of them. Yesterday the news said the Monument fire had burned 100 acres, today it’s 3000 acres. I asked if this was true, they said easily—this fire started at the border. It is zero percent contained.
They said on the radio the fire started near “Smugglers Gulch,” right on the border. This forest is known for drug and human smuggling. Since the park has been closed to visitors since June 9th because of extremely dry conditions and high winds, it is assumed the fire was started by smugglers. There are many smaller fires that do not make national news. To see how beautiful this area is (was), see We Don’t Need No Stinking Guardrails, posted three weeks ago.
The destruction these fires cause has to be seen to be believed. We do need more border protection, but 2,000 miles of border, 370 miles of it in Arizona is a lot of land to cover.