It’s summertime, and for many, the summer conjures up a feeling of endless lazy days. Sitting poolside, going to the movies to catch the latest blockbuster while absorbing high powered air-conditioning, sipping a glass of lemonade- these are the basic images we have of summer.
However, the flip-side of summer is that tragedy can occur at any time. Here in Arizona, that typically means wildfires.
I have to admit, during the first few days of the Wallow Fire, I didn’t pay much attention. I mean, it’s a given that every summer, there will be wildfires in Arizona’s forest regions. The causes are often human error – unattended campfires or dropped cigarettes not properly snuffed out, etc… Add in hot temps, dry air and nature- and you have a robust formula for fire.
Usually after a few days, most wildfires are put to rest. However, after a week with no indication of the fire slowing down, it became obvious to me that this was no ordinary fire and I started paying attention.
The fire began on May 29, and as of today is only about 20% contained. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it is believed to be an unattended campfire. Meanwhile, a makeshift city of pup tents has been set up to house the over 4,600 firefighters working to contain the fire.
Just yesterday, the number of acres burned surpassed 469,000 acres, making it the largest fire in the state’s history, surpassing the Rodeo-Chedeski fire of 2002. The fire has already seeped over the state line into New Mexico and smoke from the fire has traveled as far as Kansas and Iowa.
In addition to this massive fire, fire crews are still batting the Horseshoe Two fire in the Coronado National Forest (157,000+ acres), and the Monument Fire (3,700 + acres).
I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge this since it is in, relatively speaking from a global perspective, in my own backyard. For any of you planning a camping trip over the summer, wherever in the world you are, PLEASE practice fire safety and don’t leave fires unattended.
For more information on the Wallow Fire, you can check out the following resources:
Inciweb- a collaboration between many federal agencies to provide up-to-the -minute info on natural disasters: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2262/
New York Times article – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/10/us/10wildfire.html