Bisbee, AZ is cornered between two major fires, the Horseshoe (134,000 acres) to our northeast and the Monument (3,700–4,600 acres depending on reports) to our west. Today Bisbee was engulfed in a miasma of smoke. I don’t know if smoke from the biggest fire, the Wallow (444,000 acres, north of us), is hitting us, but there have been reports that the smoke from these fires can be seen as far north as Iowa so it depends on the wind. It is the reek of the ruination of our forests and the animals who live there.
I had a disturbing phone conversation with my friend Janice this afternoon, who lives directly across from the Huachuca Mountains (part of Coronado National Park and the Monument fire). She was crying, doesn’t know if she’ll be evacuated, and is worried about her many dogs. She could barely speak as she has respiratory problems and the smoke is so thick. Rt. 92 is closed as they fear the fire may spread across the highway. Power lines are down. The Monument fire continues to grow, it is zero percent contained. Right now the firefighters are digging trenches. I read that even with all the modern technology, it is still shovels and axes that eventually get a fire contained. These are rugged, steep mountains which makes this job as difficult as could possibly be.
There is anger and fear here. We would like to see the people responsible for this slowly burn to death. If the smugglers burn all the forests along the border, how will they hide? How can they be so stupid and cruel? They’ll never, ever, catch them.
Note: Just read the Monument fire has jumped Rt. 92. Evacuations unofficially announced by Cochise County. A shelter has been established at Palominas School BUT NO ANIMALS WILL BE ALLOWED! When will they learn that people will not leave their best friends behind?
Update 6-15-11: 5,200 acres burned.
Update 6-16-11: 9,300 acres burned. My friend who lives on the north side of Hereford Road reports mandatory evacuation across street but not yet on his side. He wants to know where the hell is the National Guard? More than 40 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Officials are telling residents to expect a long drawn out affair and to plan for evacuation. High winds are forecast for Thursday and Friday.
Update 6-18-11: 20,000 acres burned, 50 homes destroyed, 12,000 people evacuated. High winds today, 50-60 mph gusts. Everybody is pissed off or crying, taking it hour by hour. Networks set up for pets of evacuees. Horses and cattle major problem.
Smoke from Horseshoe fire seen from Rt. 92 in Bisbee across from Safeway.
Smoke from Horseshoe fire seen from my backyard.
Looking in the other direction, west, from the street near my house, smoke from the Monument fire.
These red helicopters have been flying back and forth all day. We are used to seeing border patrol helicopters, but I've never seen these before two days ago. These are the slurry helicopters, they pick up thousands of gallons of fire-retardant material called slurry and squeeze into canyons where vehicles can't go. It's an extremely dangerous job.
Monument fire from Rt. 92 near Sierra Vista.
Monument fire at night. Photo by Kresent Gurtler.