In Her Own Words…
I can tell you that for the folks who were affected by Rodeo-Chediski in 2002, this fire is bringing back many painful memories for people… the anxiety about whether your community will be affected, the feeling of helplessness if you are forced to evacuate, and the desperation to know whether your community or property was spared or burned; and watching the news in hopes of seeing your property, and hoping that it is still standing.
We were at our cabin this past weekend (June 3-4) and I decided to ride over to the Eagar/Greer area to take pictures (I enjoy photography). In Eagar, it was pretty much like “business as usual,” just a lot of smoke in the air. Greer was under pre-evacuation orders and most of the cabins already seemed to be empty by the time I got there. I did see a few folks packing up their belongings and leaving the area. The only place that seemed to be busy was the little restaurant near the resort.
Although terrified, most people affected realize that life is more important than property, and are thankful for the time to gather belongings and evacuate if necessary (as opposed to, say, a tornado situation).
A scary thought crossed my mind this morning as I was preparing to post this latest blog and a batch of Wallow Fire photos (courtesy of my new Flickr friend, Carolyn Willey from Sierra Vista, Arizona): What if people start becoming numb to the images and updates about the Wallow Fire? What if people stop paying attention and move on to the next news story? When will we reach that point where we see yet another story about the Wallow Fire and we just flip the channel?
What if we fail to learn the lessons of this massive blaze? And what if it happens again?
Arizona is our home, and as this story plays out on TV and via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr), it’s our responsibility to keep it top of mind … to never forget how susceptible our forests are to fire … to be hyper-aware of what human negligence can lead to … to never forget the heroes who tirelessly work to protect homes, save lives and extinguish the flames.
I think this quote pretty much sums it up: Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.
And the price has already gone up — a lot. As of today, the Wallow Fire has eclipsed the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski blaze in terms of total acres burned, making it the largest wildfire in Arizona history. In an effort to help keep history from repeating itself, Arizona Highways is committed to wildfire prevention through education. In the coming months, you’ll hear more from us about the importance of being smart when it comes to visiting our forests: learn how to properly put out a campfire, don’t use fireworks in restricted areas, don’t toss cigarette butts out the window, etc. Because, let’s face it, every one of those acts can have dire consequences.
So here’s what we’re asking: When the Wallow Fire becomes last week’s news, please do your part to never forget the kind of devastation fire can inflict on our state. That’s right, OUR STATE.