Firefighters get handle on Arizona blaze

s011109 at s011109 at
Thu Jul 25 03:36:41 EST 2002


"Daniel B. Wheeler" wrote:

> From The Oregonian, July 3, 2002, p A17
> Firefighters get handle on Arizona blaze
> By ALISA BLACKWOOD, The Associated Press
>         CIBECUE, Ariz. - Crews fighting the largest wildfire in Arizons
> history shifted their focus from the evacuated commujnity of Forest
> Lakes to the southern end of the blaze, and fire bosses say the end of
> the battle may be in sight.
>         The 467,580-acre blaze about 100 miles northeast of Phoenix has
> consumed at least 423 homes since it started June 18. It was about 80
> percent contained Tuesday. The fire is expected to be fully contained
> by Sunday, and some crews are already being pulled off the lines to be
> sent to other fires.
>         About 25,000 evacuees have been allowed to return home, many of them
> in Show Low, the economic hub of the area. But 3,500 to 4,000 others
> remain evacuated.
>         Officials said it will be at least a few more days before the
> remaining evacuees are allowed to go back.
>         Firefighters watched for spotting near the fire perimeter, at one
> point conaining a 10-acre blaze northwest of Cibecue thought to have
> been started by a flying ember.
>         They also contained a 600-acre fire that escaped fire lines Monday.
> The fire begain in an unburned area inside the fire line and spilled
> over into an area beyond the barrier.
>         With the fire line built around most of the huge blaze, prospects for
> containing it were good, said Kris Eriksen, a fire information
> officer. The main fire had threatened the community of Forest Lakes
> during the weekend, but firefighters were able to keep it out of the
> community.
>         Crews didn't work the fire near Forest Lakes on Monday night, said
> fire information officer Bruce Palmer.
>         "When they do not have crews patrolling at night, that is a sign that
> things are clearing up," Palmer said.
>         The number of people working the blaze decreased from 4,000 people
> during the weekend to 3,400 Monday night.
>         Elsewhere in the West, a firefighter died Tuesday while working in
> rugged terrain to help control a 72,935-acre wildfire north of
> Durango, Colo. The cause of his death was not immediately released.
> The temperature in the area was in the mid-90s. The fire was 55
> percent contained as of Tuesday night.
>         In Arizona, a court hearing is set for today for a man charged with
> starting one of the two wildfires that merged into the monstrous blaze
> in the eastern part of the state.
>         Leonard Gregg, 29, a part-time firefighter, told an investigator he
> set grass ablaze so he could earn money as part of a fire crew,
> according to court documents.
> Comment by poster: A 730-square-mile forest fire is a strong
> indication that current fire controls are insufficient for fuel loads.
> This is very early in the Western fire season. Annual wildfires of 1.5
> million acres have occurred in the recent past. Atypical fire seasons
> may increase global warming with sudden emissions.
> There is a simple and effective control for such fires: reduction of
> fuel loads by pelletizing excess fuel production. A reduction of
> 10-30% on much of this land, especially in small-diameter woody
> debris, would create fire restrictions. Such reductions should also
> not impact endangered species.
> Loss of habitat by wildfire certainly increases endangered species
> habitat loss.
> The fuels reduced could supply the US with considerable electrical
> energy. Pelletized wood is extremely clean burning, and reduces total
> emissions.
> Daniel B. Wheeler

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