The Last of the Huachucas

I cannot begin to describe the dread in which I witnessed the smoke pouring from the valley west of Coronado National Park this afternoon. I first noticed it at a cleaning job, refused to believe my eyes, but watched in horror as it rose thicker and faster as the day wore on. Cochise County Sheriff’s Dept. reports it started on the Mexican side and quickly jumped the border. The US Forest Service based at Ft. Huachuca has already dispatched air tankers with fire retardant. You can still see great white accumulations of the last year’s slurry all over the mountains—it looks like snow but doesn’t go away.

Last year’s Monument Fire burned 30,000 acres along with homes, businesses, and historical buildings  before masses of firefighters were able to contain it. It took a month.

On top of this, the Great Reconciliation I recently enjoyed with a family member has fallen flat on its face. I came home today to a true-colors email I should have expected. When oh when will I learn to trust my instincts, as I have been doing all my life. If something sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it isn’t.

Guess I picked the wrong day to quit smoking.

New forest fire started this morning around 11 am, taken from customer’s house.

New fire started today, May 8th, as seen from Rt. 92 in Sierra Vista.

School Canyon fire, near Parker Lake west of the Huachucas May 8, 2012. Note the devastation and dead trees in the foreground that will remain for many years from last year’s Monument fire.

24 responses to “The Last of the Huachucas

  1. Thought to myself, ‘Oh no not again.’ Having spent time hanging out in your area these past few winter seasons I do understand how you feel & what you are saying about the way things are, where you are. If you need help wringing clueless necks, give me a shout. Some of those clueless necks are long overdo for a good wringing!!

  2. Oh Debra, I’m beyond words, which is a shameful thing for a writer to admit. I hate to be reminded of how helpless we all are to the whims of others. I just don’t know what else to say… Hang in there…

  3. So sorry to hear about this fire! I really do not understand how people can be so clueless as to feel fires like this are acts of nature. My fire-workin’ brother tells me when it’s near the border, it’s man made. No matter what politics tell the gullible public it is.

  4. I know that sense of dread. We had forest fires come pretty close to where we lived when I was just a young snot back on the farm in rural Nova Scotia.
    I won’t even waste the bandwidth talking about the nit-wits with their heads up their butts.
    Hope they get it put out. It would also be satisfying if they could find whoever set the fire, but I’m not that naive to think that would be possible.

    • Hi Bob, if it’s a camper with a permit they can track them down, but that’s rarely the case along the border…that’s just the way it is here and apparently there’s nothing we can do about it. Thanks for writing.

  5. They just updated the site a few minutes ago – 75% containment with patrol and mop-up the primary activity for the day.

    Of course there are fires started by lightning – they’re quite common here during the summer thunderstorm season and I think it’s easy for folks whose only experience is naturally-set fires to extrapolate.

    But today, on the border, with 2,000 acres involved in Mexico and roughly 7,000 in the US? I don’t think so. I haven’t gone back to the weather archives to check the wind strength and direction when this one began, but I think I could make a good guess.

    I’m sure you read of recent events in Nuevo Laredo – or perhaps not. Suffice it to say the tragedy of the border takes many forms, from rampant, random violence to torture, to fire, and the response of our government in DC has been pathetic and worse.

    • Well thank goodness they got to it fast enough. Spokeswoman for Coronado National Forest reports fire was human-caused (at least that’s what I’m reading in local news). The thunder and lightning storms don’t begin for two more months—last year’s Monument Fire began June 11, one month before any signs of monsoon. Government is completely ignorant of border issues.

  6. Major fires are scary and damaging. Our fear of fire is so strong it must be built into our DNA. If this was started by humans it makes the situation all the worse and even more heart wrenching.

    Regarding your news about the Great Reconciliation at least you know you gave this your best effort. If you hadn’t you might have always wondered. I really do believe in Karma and this humane action on your part will follow you with good graces. I know you may not want to hear that right now, but tuck it away and think about it later on.

    Once again I find myself completely wrapped up in what you write. The absolute sign of a terrific writer.

    • Hi Bill, guess I’ve learned true terror out here regarding fires. Everywhere now in the neighborhoods surrounding the mountains are signs asking “Is your house defensible?” It’s scary to think we may end up a barren dust bowl.

      No regrets for going “home.” I learned that people don’t change no matter how old, or sick, or needy. Thanks for writing, you sweet talker. Nice way to start my day.

  7. Have been reading with horror about the fires in AZ. As a new property owner in northwestern AZ (our dream is to build our retirement home there in 2 more years) I try to keep up with the goings on in the state. There have been problems with ‘people’ even that far north so I can only imagine how many more problems there are where you are. So glad to read that they seem to have gotten at least this fire under control. Hang in there, although I am certain that things will not improve quickly I do believe they will change for the better in the future as long as people open their eyes and minds and really SEE what is happening in this country. I know that although I now live in the Northeast MANY here are beginning to wake up so if the land of the feel gooders is waking there is hope!

    • Hi Sue, sorry to be cynical but things are not changing anywhere except for the worse. I’m from CT, full of laws and you can’t do this or you can’t do that—moved out here for freedom but with that comes lowlifes doing whatever they want and no laws to stop them. At the moment my life is being made miserable by horrible neighbors. No laws to stop them from using my street as a hot rod speedway. Can’t catch them. Sheriffs a long way away. Last night during the night they broke my fence because neighbor threatened me and I called cops. I want to live in the wilderness with my guns and dogs. The few good people left in the world can’t change what’s coming. Thanks for writing and sorry for negative response but it was a really, really bad weekend. Take care.

  8. Why does it bother me?

    Sorry to hear about the family stuff blowing up. Nothing hurts more than being sucked in, even when deep down you have been prepping yourself for things to go wrong, it doesn’t take the sting away. Screw them. As an earlier commenter said, karma will bless you and bite them.
    As for the fires, let’s just hope the a-hole who set it, got caught in it, the land is drying out really badly here in Spain, and someone lit a fire here, just across the runway from Gib, it was absolutely nothing in size to what you have down in AZ, but it is still frightening to witness plumes and then clouds of smoke fill up the horizon. I don’t understand, nor do I want to, I might add, the mentality of people who do this sort of thing.

    • Hi Mrs Gary…hmmm I remember writing “screw ’em” to you once too when you had some family stressing you out! That’s exactly right though, getting set up to be knocked down stings even when you know it’s coming. A little naive voice in your mind that wants everybody to get along says ‘maybe this time it will be different!” Right. In a way it’s a good life lesson, affirmation that a person who has spent their life being completely untrustworthy will always be that way, even when they get old.

      I predict at some point within the next few years Arizona will lose all of its forest. There’s no way to stop it. Even a fire accidentally set doesn’t change the damage done, though I don’t believe in “accidents.” Thanks for writing hon.

  9. Just poking my nose in to see how things are. I surely could say a number of things about the Decline of Things generally, but I’d only rile myself up and I need to avoid that whenever possible.

    Hope things have settled down, firewise, and that the sting of family matters has lessened. There seems to be a lot of that kind of conflict going on these days among my friends and neighbors – I wonder if part of it isn’t engendered by all of the societal turmoil.

    Well, let’s go find some birds to watch, and enjoy life a bit.

    • Hi Linda, thanks for checking in. There are currently four new fires burning in AZ, the biggest started a few days ago, the Sunflower Fire in Tonto Nat’l Forest near Phoenix.

      I wish the powers that be would give all fires, hurricanes, storms, etc., more appropriate names. I know the fires are named after the sites, but still, the Sunflower Fire sounds like a friendly barbecue. Why not Hurricane Hitler or the Oblivion Inferno?

      My family problems go way back, it was my own fault for not trusting my instincts. There is so much abuse dutifully taken in the name of family—which is why I find it so vastly overrated. It won’t happen again.

      I saw an oriole at a customer’s hummingbird feeder and asked how could this be. She told me to remove several of the little plastic pieces that cover the openings…I did, and now we have orioles happily guzzling sugar water! Do you get the spring migration of orioles, tanagers, and chats? Wish they’d stick around!

  10. OMG this must be so frightening when the fires are so close to you.
    We have terrible forest fires here in Portugal and there are certain times of the year when you can’t have bonfires. Fortunately we’ve only had one close to us in the last 6years and that was scary enough.

    But how do forest fires start in Portugal? who knows…

    • Hi Piglet, they must know how they start. They always figure it out here but don’t do anything about it. Yes we have fire restrictions too—last year was so bad they didn’t even do the public 4th of July fireworks until September. Unfortunately none of this stops the sick or stupid b*stards who start the fires…

      • In Portugal I’ve seen people disgard their cigarette butts out of their car windows.

        • How’s the litter? There’s lots of it here. I used to see people toss cigarette butts out car windows back east, not so much here. If I saw someone do it during high fire alert, don’t know if I could control my adrenaline…I saw someone do it back in CT on a hiking trail and I went after them…eek.

  11. Hiya! Happy Memorial Day weekend – a good time to remember some of the best folks our country’s produced.

    I was reading Wildfire Today , one of the best blogs for information apart from official sources, and it suddenly occured to me you might not know about it. Now you do. I found it last year during the Texas fire season, and it really was helpful in a lot of ways.

    Oh, don’t I wish we’d get the orioles, tanagers and such. They do migrate through, along with some beauties like the cedar waxwing and the indigo bunting, but they don’t stay. The same is true for robins – so many beautiful birds, but they’re heading for a different kind of territory, leaving us with the herons, gulls and terns. 😉

  12. Thank you Linda, I hope our soldiers are on everyone’s mind this weekend. And oh, would I love to see some shore birds—that would mean WATER!

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