Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Monument Fire- Sierra Vista Arizona 6/18/11

I left the house this morning at 2:45 A.M. to head to Sierra Vista to check out the Monument Fire. I timed my journey so that I would arrive before daylight hoping that I could see areas where there were flames visible. With the winds calm and the temperatures around 72 degrees there was little apparent activity that I cold see as I headed south on route 90 towards Sierra Vista.

I was able to smell smoke before I spotted the flames on the side of the mountain near Ramsey Canyon. Traveling up and down multiple streets and highways I was unable to get into the evacuated areas due to manned road blocks and barricaded side streets.

These pictures are photos that I took at San Pedro Conservation Area and are included here to show just how much fuel is available and how dry it is here and in most areas of Southern Arizona. I can't remember when the last time we had a significant rain and everywhere I travel in Southern Arizona it is extremely dry.

It is easy to see how a ten foot high wall of flames more than a thousand feet wide driven by high winds could move at a high rate of speed across the desert destroying homes under these conditions.

While I was hiking in San Pedro I could see smoke from fires that had quieted down overnight but by 8 A.M. the winds were starting to pick up which means fire crews may once again have their hands full.

Fires that I could see were not very far from homes but access to the area was closed and I didn't see much evidence of smoke at lower elevations but I'm sure later in the day things heated up.

Route 92 South was closed as was Ramsey Road east. All side streets headed south off Ramsey were blockaded.

From my vantage point I was able to watch a steady stream of wildfire crews, sheriff's vehicles, heavy equipment and emergency vehicles entering the area.

There are some really good photographs of the fire at:

Due to large amounts of particulate in the air the sunrise was spectacular and I was happy to get a few good photos.

As the wind came up I could see that new areas were flaring up on the mountain and I was wondering if this area would soon be visited by one of the five helicopters fighting this enormous blaze.

Tomorrow I will return to Sierra Vista later in the day to see what the expected high winds do to the area.

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