I am enjoying the last leg of a nice long vacation at our cabin in the pine forests near Strawberry, Arizona. Not unique in the west or elsewhere in the world, we are in the ninth year of a drought, and the forests are bone dry.
Just 10 miles to the south, the Willow Wild Fire is raging, and the skies here daily are filled with thick smoke, it has rained ash, and we have seen some spooky red haze sunsets and moon rises. What is truly amazing to consider is that while I am here worried about our little piece of heaven, there are more than 1000 men and women wearing heavy protective gear, working 12 hours a day, in 90+ degree heat, fighting the fire in roadless desert wilderness area. The folks doing this are true heros (see the photos).
Do you want to know how hot and dry it is here? Two days ago, a bull dozer used to clear a defense line scraped a rock, and started another 40 acre fire. And we hear that more than 5 times this has happened, so that the dozers are now only used at 2:00 AM when the air is cooler and there is a fraction more humidity. There are also reports of people target shooting, and the ricochet of bullets on the rocks sparking flames.
It is a tinderbox.
Now, it is just time to worry about the thousands of folks headed to forest campgrounds for the July 4 weekend– although fireworks are cancelled and there are bans on camp fires, what are the odds of careless acts of sparks?
Update July 4 D’Arcy sent this cool satellite image showing the smoke plume from space– we are under that north rending smoke plume on the left edge of the fire. However, the last 2 days have been more clear up here, but they are saying the fire could burn for a while, and I am guessing from the maps, may burn the entire ridge of the Mazaztal Mountains, (bonus points for whomever can pronounce that correctly). The word is the mountain is covered with fuel that has not burned for 60 years.