Monument Fire Wreckage and Progress

The Monument fire in Coronado National Park was 47% contained as of this morning. My friend Janice who lives right there took me on a tour of the destruction today. When the fire jumped Rt. 92 it destroyed homes and burned miles and miles of land along Hereford Road. Many of the people evacuated last week have not been allowed to return home.

The fire has moved north to Carr Canyon, another former amazing area of the Park and a favorite refuge for me and many others. Watching the team of tanker helicopters working today was distressing but amazing. The skill and bravery of these pilots leaves you speechless. They fly directly into the burning area and drop thousands of gallons of fire-retardant material called slurry. It was about 100 degrees today but the winds have died down.

The news about this fire may be subsiding as other fires and floods rage through the United States. But to the people who live in any of these areas, life will never be the same.

Home totally destroyed by Monument Fire on Ramsey Canyon Rd. It was a sad scene watching the owners pick through the rubble. This was a historic home built in the 1920s, it used to be the Hereford Post Office. The post office part had been preserved by the owners.

House destroyed by Monument fire on Hereford Road

More wreckage from Monument fire on Ramsey Canyon Road

Rt. 92 is still blocked along along the burned area, so you can't get too close.

Carr Canyon burning 6-22-11. You can see the slurry helicopter heading into Carr Canyon on the top of the ridge.

We watched the slurry helicopters work in a team of three. The first hovers near the ground and gets filled, the second heads into the canyon, the third returns.

The tanker that just got filled heads for the canyon.

Here the first heads into the canyon while the third returns to be filled.

A favorite picture of me worshiping at Carr Canyon in better days.


23 responses to “Monument Fire Wreckage and Progress

  1. I just about five minutes ago, read on MSNBC that the Monument fire was being brought under control basically because there’s not much left to burn. Lives have definitely been changed forever. Even those of us who don’t live in that area but love it have been changed. I have seen the beauty of Yellowstone National Park return after the fires in the 80’s but I know I won’t live to see the beauty of this area return.

    • Hi Sandie, it was a dismal scene today, so black, so dead. I’m trying not to bring politics into this but if something isn’t done about the border things here will only get worse. Our passion for Arizona has been damaged along with the lands. Thanks so much for writing.

  2. These fire posts have really made me sad, what a waste. Glad you’re ok though.

  3. Here, far away in Canada, it is hard for us to imagine what you are seeing & yet we feel in our hearts what you are seeing. Fire may be all consuming but it cannot take away our wonderful memories of time spent there in the mountains over the last few years. We now consider ourselves so fortunate to have seen the forests when we did. We know the Naco highway & are familiar with the area you live in & we understand your frustration with the way things are down there. Now, with this fire devastation combined with all the other issues, you are facing an even tougher situation. And, even tougher decisions… We will probably have the opportunity once again this coming winter of ranch sitting over by McNeill but we are asking ourselves now if we really want to come back if the Chiricahuas & Huachucas are not going to be there for us anymore. Yes, we all have decisions to make. Hang in there Debra because we all appreciate your thoughts & feelings. And, thanks for the email a few days ago. You perked up my day:))

    • Hi Al, it’s an ugly situation from all angles. We don’t know what to do but chances are we may be able to do nothing. Isn’t is amazing that people think of Arizona as a big desert when we had these forests! Fires are frequently set in the Coronados but are contained before they make the news. This one happened to have the “perfect” conditions for catastrophe. We’re all just sick. Well not everybody. Thanks again for your support on your website and your notes.

  4. I was wondering if the fire would eventually run out of fuel, as they sometimes do, or if human intervention would be successful. Looks like a little bit of both. While its not over yet, and you certainly could use a couple of days of rain, I’m hoping the worst is over.

    Nature is resilient and the ecosystems will recover. I’m more concerned about all of the tragic changes brought into peoples’s lives and how they will cope. Good luck to you and yours Debra. I think of you often.

    • Hi Bill, they did A LOT of controlled burns to prevent the fire from spreading too far into neighborhoods, so that may be part of why there’s nothing left. They had to do what they had to do. Every utility pole in the area (hundreds) are wrapped with that silver fire-retardant material.

      27,000 acres burned and firefighting cost is around 5 million, but that was days ago, can’t find updated number. Guess that doesn’t include cost of homes and precious belongings. Rain is not due for a few more weeks. Officially monsoon starts in June but since we’ve been here it hasn’t started until July. Hope it’s a strong one.

      I don’t like the way I’m feeling. Thanks for writing and your good wishes.

  5. Thanks for your continued post on this ‘D’. Though am a thousand miles plus away I can feel your anguish (and everyone in the area) and hoping the anguish does not linger long after the fires are diminish. You and everyone involved are in my thoughts.

    It is interesting watching the copters at work. I have seen it before once in B.C. and in northern Ontario. Though it is dangerous work, pilots feel pressed to make more runs, get fatigued, make a mistake, lose air to the blades and down they come.

    • Thanks Hudson. It’ll never be the same in my lifetime, but what’s worse is how my attitude about the culture here has changed. I’m so sick and disgusted about the border wars I can’t stand it. They won’t do anything about it and this will continue. I want out.

      Those pilots are incredible, it’s such a dangerous job. There were out there again today (I worked out there today) so it must take thousands of drops to make a difference. When you see the slurry getting dropped, it looks like a tiny puff of brown smoke over the mountains. Sickening.

      Thanks for writing. I feel bad that I’m not doing much commenting on anyone’s blogs but I have too much on my mind!

      • You just made me think. How I followed a link from someone else’s wordpress site to yours. Before that time I really did not understand a lot about Arizona, it’s land, the people and their struggles, the plight of those who need help and hope -person and animal. Now my eyes are little more open. My understanding more in depth. Your ‘OUTLET’ post marks all that is right and wrong. We have to listen, we have to give a ‘dam’. This is not just a story, it is a life.

  6. Indigo Spider

    We have had so much rain the last two days, and more on the way, and each morning I wake up and try to push the rain your way. I know it is too late, I know even if they headed your way the rains would be gone by the time they reached Arizona, but I do it anyway.

    We’ve lost power on and off because of the storms and there were several house fires in the area because of lightning strikes and each time I heard the sirens I thought of what is happening in Arizona. Such a shame, such a waste, and in this case we can’t even say Mamma Nature is pissed since it was plain old man who started them.

    Such a waste and nothing but helplessness left to feel.

    • Hi Marita, I would still be heartbroken if it was mother nature but we know it’s not, and that makes it so much worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if they handle the border situation by just opening it up, that way they’d stop burning our forests. The government is definitely stupid enough.

      The rains start around the 4th of July. THANKFULLY they have banned fireworks this year, though that won’t stop people from getting them in Mexico. I hate fireworks anyway, all summer they’re going off in my neighborhood and many dogs go crazy from the noise, I have one who just goes mental.

      I remember those spring storms well from CT—I know you’re sick of them but I’d love to see one right now. Thanks for writing.

  7. Thank you for keeping us updated. This is so sad. People’s lives changed forever, the beauty of the land destroyed. Thinking of you!

    • Hi Char, I think I’m dehydrated from crying. I’ve lost about 10 lbs from the Anguish Diet, one that really works. Wish I was up where you are right now. Thanks for writing and thinking of us.

      • The Anguish Diet is a hard one to take! I wish you were up here now, too. I think the positive thing I see in all of this is that your caring heart is showing through. Never lose that! It is worth more than gold!

  8. Hey Darlin –
    I think the personal type photos that you’ve posted here say a lot more and give a better indication of the destruction than many of the news photos. I think the first photo you posted of the house on Ramsey Canyon Rd. says it all – it should be a photo that goes along with any of the wildfire stories or the stories about who was responsible for the devastation.

    A different form of terrorist activity maybe – at least for our wildlife. So many emotions are created by something like this. Take care of yourself and critters. Thinking about y’all down that way!


    • Hey Cowboy, I didn’t even think of that, it is a form of terrorism because it sure works. It divides people and makes them angry and afraid. It’s very bad when instead of nations coming together to make a better life for all its citizens, races band together instead. No amount of political correctness will solve this. You’re right about the blitzkrieg of emotions. Thanks for writing.

  9. It’s a great photograph of you in happier times as you say; unfortunately those photos of nature’s destruction by fire are too familiar to Australian readers whose hearts go out to their Arizonian cousins — but am unsure if they are getting any coverage on the Australian news services.

    • Hi JL, thanks. We don’t hear much about the Australian fires either. The Queensland floods had strong coverage here though. I didn’t know that fires were so common in Australia. It’s a big place with diverse environments so I’m not surprised. I wonder if the methods used to contain them are the same we use here?

  10. Despite the destruction, its amazing how nature bounces back from these sort of disasters.

    • expat, that’s true but it takes many years. I won’t be here in 50 years. Many of the trees up there were ancient. Many animals died. I know many people think a fire is actually good for the environment, but I’m not of that opinion. Living next to a wasteland is bad for tourism in an already destitute economy, bad for the land, bad for the morale of everybody around it.

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