Sunday, May 8, 2011
It was around 1:30pm when I was in the front yard taking photos of my budding garden when I noticed a fire to my west. It looked like it was at the intersection of Hereford Road and State Road 92. I got up on my roof and saw it was in fact there, and smoke was coming up from the pretty yellow home right off the road.
It was too close for comfort and moving fast.
I drove to the site. Four fire trucks from various agencies were already working the scene, from Forest Service to Palominas Volunteer Fire Dept and the city of Sierra Vista. The lot next to the yellow house on Hereford Road was still on fire, but the main fire seemed to be behind the yellow house.
I then walked around the burning area and saw neighbors trying to wet down their weeds with low-presure garden hoses that seemed rather futile against the gusting winds. "My car's packed and my cat's waiting inside it in case I have to leave!" told me one woman holding a hose. Another man a block away came with a shovel ready to help out.
The main fire was off SR92. What looks like a white brick structure was fully engulfed. This turned out to be a building used for storage and thus was hard to extinguish. Later a woman said her father owned that building that contained $300,000 of stuff she was to inherit. Flames were shooting up from inside, spreading from the west end to the east end of the building, going with the main gusts of wind today.
This area has many smaller trailers and small adobe homes close-by, small lots filled with tall dead weeds and cranky dogs behind chain-link fences or brick walls. The fire fighters took a long time to put the main building fire out. The small lots make this a highly-conjested living area. The fire could have caused so much damage.
One woman who told me she witnessed the fire from the gas station across the street of the fire said she saw a man burning weeds and the next thing she knew she saw a fire take off with the wind. It was that wind that cause the yellow house's yard to catch fire. Nobody in this area keeps their yard trimmed of weeds, and buildings range from single-wide old trailers to nice little adobe homes.
By 4:30pm a KGUN newsvan arrived. A second structure right off Hereford Road was also in ruins. This one was next to the pretty yellow house, whose yard by then had also caught fire. This is a house that the owners built three years ago while they still lived in a dumpy trailer on the lot. By then I was able to walk between the two main burned buildings and could see how much grass caught fire. Easily six homes could have caught fire. The local news said this was 6-7 acres with 11 homes in danger.
The fire is now contained, but this made the Tucson news both KVOA and KGUN. KVOA even used one of my photos for its news section, showing the burned out chassis of a truck parked behind the first structure that burned. KGUN crew were out interviewing witnesses and I overheard one man, whose single trailer is next to the burned lot, tell the reporter somthing about a gas tank. This is sheer ignorance despite our red flag warning AND a burn ban by the fire department. It's too hot, too dry and too windy to be burning trash in back yards!
I never saw an ambulance so I don't know if any lives were lost. but the home off Hereford Road is owned by a woman whose daughter was killed a few years ago crossing the road here. That's what one woman who watched the fire crew told me. Her daughter knew that girl.
Fires like what we had today scare the hell out of me. We live in wildfire country. I can't even trust my redneck neighbors to act safely, but this "Don't tell me what to do!" is typical of the person who lives here.
All is well now, but this fire kept me going all afternoon. Kevin made me a nice dinner for Mother's Day. It was a delicious baked ziti with tossed salad.