I’m departing a bit from the usual topics, to offer a word of thanks from this Arizona native to Delaware’s DNREC wildfire crew.
Forest fires are rare, but at times when winds are high and humidity is low, the threat is real – hence the need for a seasoned crew.
In recent years, the call has gone out from western states ravaged by wildfires.
While not in the national news, Arizona has struggled with fires for months, often in scenic high desert-foothill areas. A wave of droughts and at times winter rain can result in tinder-dry grass and other vegetation, especially when the mercury climbs to 100 or higher.
Previous fires have threatened communities and in the last year or so a copper mine.
The Delaware crew was first dispatched to the Griffin Fire, a 61,821-acre blaze in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest about 16 miles from Globe, AZ, the town of my birth.
Back in my younger days, we hiked and on one occasion did some target practice in the high desert-foothill area near the fire.
The First State crew then took on theRockhouse Fire, a 19,506-acre blaze located on San Carlos Apache tribal land southeast of Globe. In both cases, the crew faced hilly terrain and temperatures that remain high in September.
(Shown in the accompanying photo is Adam Keever of Newark is a veteran of the Delaware wildfire crew and is shown here with his chainsaw next to a saguaro cactus at the Rockhouse Fire in Arizona).
On September 9, the crew headed west to the Valley Fire, which consumed 17,665 acres in the Cleveland National Forest, 19 miles northeast of the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista, CA. This fire presented a threat to populated areas.
Less than 40 percent contained when Delaware’s crew arrived, the Valley Fire is now over 90 percent contained and many evacuation orders and restrictions have been lifted. The California fire was in rugged terrain and the crew was sent in by helicopter.
With their assignments completed, the Delaware firefighters are returning today to their Blackbird State Forest station.
Enjoy your weekend and thanks again. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.