More than 300 residents
in southeast Arizona will have to evacuate at a moment's
notice if a fire in the Huachuca Mountains keeps
Cochise County officials issued a pre-evacuation alert
to 345 households, according to Steve Plevel,
spokesperson for the Arizona State Land Department.
Sheriff's deputies went door to door, leaving fliers or
talking personally with residents.
Residents have been meeting in small groups to talk
about preparation for evacuation and to try to ease each
other's fears. The area is socio-economically diverse.
County officials also alerted response groups such as
The Salvation Army and American Red Cross, Plevel added.
About 250 firefighters -- using two air tankers, five
helicopters, and 10 engines -- are fighting the 1,770-
acre fire. Gusting winds were fueling the inferno, and
fire crews believed it could take until next week to get
the blaze under control.
The southeast Arizona mountain range runs north and
south, with large canyons running in both directions.
Homes in the area are mainly located in the canyons, so
fire fighters are concentrating their efforts there. The
fire is burning at elevations of 7,000-9,000 feet and
had reached the mouth of Miller Canyon Friday. Residents
in Carr Canyon were also warned they could have to
People in high-risk areas should be tuned in to their
local radio station so they will hear if evacuation
becomes necessary, said Plevel. "They should gather up
their important papers, hook up their horse trailers if
they have them, and be prepare to leave quickly with
everything dear to them."
Firefighters were hoping to gain ground Friday because
the humidity was in the 20 percent range and could climb
to 60 percent Friday evening. Officials said the fire
likely spread from an abandoned campfire.
Most of the firefighters cannot directly attack the fire
because it is burning in terrain that is too steep to
negotiate. Crews were cutting fire lines and lighting
back burning fires west of the Huachucas to keep the
fire from spreading.
The blaze has burned within three miles from the
boundary of Fort Huachuca. The fire has also reached
parts of the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, an internationally
known birding site home to more than 170 species of
birds, including up to 14 types of hummingbirds.
Officials closed the preserve late Tuesday.
The fire is blazing some 85 miles southeast of Tucson.
It has been burning tinder-dry pine and juniper for a
week after igniting in Oversite Canyon west of the
Forest Road 61, which links with Arizona 83 near Parker
Canyon Lake, has been closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Most
of the burned area lies in the Miller Peak Wilderness
Area, which is surrounded by the Coronado National
The fire risk in Arizona will be very high this spring,
said Plevel. There has been less-than-normal rain and
snow, and "the humidity is usually so far down that
field instruments can't even measure it," he said.
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