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Thread: Arizona '04

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    Post Arizona '04

    PINE, Ariz. (AP) - A 2,700-acre wildfire located about six miles
    northeast of Pine was 60 percent contained by Wednesday night,
    authorities said.
    The fire was not immediately threatening any communities or
    homes and full containment was expected by Friday, said Jackie
    Denk, fire information officer for the Northern Arizona Incident
    Management Team.
    Officials expected the fire to grow to about 4,000 acres as
    firefighters conducted burnout operations along the perimeter of
    the blaze and within the interior of the fire.
    Crews completed a containment line around the entire northern
    front of the fire Tuesday and were working on building a line along
    the western and southern edges Wednesday.
    "There is still 3 miles of line that need to be completed on
    the southern end of the fire" and that is expected to be done by
    Thursday, said Joe Luttman, a fire information officer.
    Luttman said 316 firefighters were working on the wildfire along
    with two small tankers, 15 engines, two helicopters and two bull
    dozers.
    The first of two elite Hot Shot crews were expected to arrive
    Thursday to help firefighting efforts.
    The fire was first spotted Monday and quickly grew, helped by
    extremely dry conditions and trees killed by bark beetle
    infestation.
    The cause remained under investigation, Luttman said.
    Initially, the fire threatened a Boy Scout camp, but by early
    Tuesday the blaze had moved northeast and away from Camp Geronimo.
    A large ridge that stands between the fire and Pine makes it
    less likely that the fire will endanger the town, said Vincent
    Picard, a spokesman for the Tonto National Forest.
    The fire, northeast of Phoenix, was burning in an area where
    Mexican spotted owls and peregrine falcons are known to nest.
    ---
    CITRUS FIRE
    GILA BEND, Ariz. (AP) - A fire burning northwest of here grew to
    3,000 acres by Wednesday, fire officials said.
    The blaze had consumed mostly salt cedars along the dry bed of
    the Gila River, said Chuck Turner, safety officer for Gila Bend
    Fire Rescue.
    No structures or communities were threatened.
    The fire was 500 acres late Tuesday, however, the increase was
    not surprising given the dense trees in the area, Turner said.
    "The reality is that it needs to be burned up," Turner said.
    "The fuels continue to build over the years and to burn it out is
    not necessarily a bad thing."
    About 25 firefighters were building fire lines northwest of the
    fire, where it was moving Wednesday. The fire was about 70 percent
    contained.
    Officials didn't set a containment date.
    The cause of the blaze was still under investigation, but
    authorities believe the fire may have started Tuesday with an
    unauthorized agricultural burning that got out of control, Turner
    said.

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    PINE, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters continued burnout efforts
    Thursday to deny fuel to a 3,800-acre wildfire and hoped to have it
    contained by Friday night.
    The fire, which was 75 percent contained Thursday, was not
    immediately threatening any communities or homes, said Myndi
    Brogdon, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire.
    "The weather really worked in our favor," she said.
    Moderate temperatures allowed firefighters to work faster than
    expected, Brogdon said.
    About 320 firefighters were building fire line along the
    southern edge of the fire on Thursday. But officials expected some
    crews to be sent home or on to other fires by Saturday.
    The cause remained under investigation, but officials ruled out
    lightning or any prescribed burning.
    ---
    CITRUS FIRE
    GILA BEND, Ariz. (AP) - A fire burning northwest of Gila Bend
    was contained Thursday at 5,700 acres.
    The blaze consumed mostly salt cedars and other vegetation along
    the basin of the Gila River, but no communities or structures were
    threatened, said Nancy Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of
    Land Management in Phoenix.
    About 35 firefighters were patrolling the perimeter of the blaze
    and putting out hot spots on the interior.
    The cause of the fire was under investigation, but officials
    believe it was caused by people.

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    Post May 5th, 2004

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) - A prescribed burn
    designed to reduce fire danger on the Grand Canyon's South Rim
    jumped a containment line Wednesday, blanketing some of the park's
    busiest visitor spots in heavy smoke.
    The popular Mather Point lookout and a canyon visitor
    information center were closed in the afternoon but were expected
    to reopen on Thursday, said park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge. The
    fire was several miles from Mather Point.
    Authorities had begun voluntary evacuations in the afternoon but
    called them off after winds died down, she said. The fire was
    estimated at about 1,700 acres; no official containment estimates
    had been made.
    The south entrance to the park was closed for several hours on
    Wednesday but reopened by late afternoon.
    Grand Canyon officials had planned to burn 1,620 acres about a
    mile south of the rim's Grand Canyon Village, which includes
    campgrounds, lodges, restaurants and other facilities.
    But the fire jumped the northern boundary and was within a
    half-mile of park employee residential buildings, said Grand Canyon
    spokeswoman Leah McGinnis.
    None of the lodges, restaurants or residences were evacuated,
    but there was a lot of smoke in the area.
    About 80 people were working on the fire by Wednesday evening,
    but 65 of them had been part of the prescribed burn crew, Oltrogge
    said.
    Prescribed burns can only be done during brief periods each
    year, depending on weather conditions, but can grow out of control.
    In May 2000, a blaze lit in the Bandelier National Monument in
    New Mexico burned thousands of acres around the Los Alamos National
    Laboratory, destroying several lab buildings and forcing the
    evacuation of 25,000 people.
    A 34,200-acre wildfire in Osceola National Forest in Florida
    began in March as a 1,100-acre prescribed burn but spread quickly
    because of high winds and low humidity.

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    Post May 5th

    YUMA, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters were securing lines Wednesday
    around a 250-acre blaze burning near the Colorado River.
    The Bend fire on the Fort Yuma-Quechan Reservation was 60
    percent contained, but the figure could increase to 90 percent by
    Wednesday evening, said Lori Cook, a spokeswoman for the crew
    fighting the fire.
    The blaze, burning along Interstate 8, destroyed one camp site.
    It threatens three recreation vehicle parks and about 40 camps
    where people were living, Cook said.
    Residents at the RV park have not been evacuated, but people at
    the camp sites were being asked to leave, she said.
    "It's a dangerous area down there and there are a lot hot
    pockets," Cook said.
    Nearly 100 firefighters were battling the fire, which is burning
    through salt cedars, willows, cottonwood and cattails.
    It began Monday night and was human-caused.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    AP-NY-05-05-04 1302EDT
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    Post May 6th

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) - The blaze that shrouded
    the Grand Canyon in hazy smoke and briefly closed portions of the
    popular South Rim Wednesday was started by firefighters seeking to
    prevent more destructive wildfires. But a sudden wind shift put
    firefighters on the defensive.
    "You do your level best, but you're still dealing with Mother
    Nature," said Sam Whitted, a firefighter who was on the crew that
    set the initial blaze.
    Prescribed fires are a frequent tool in the effort to reduce
    fire danger, but the prevention effort carries its own risks.
    The burns can only be done when it is dry enough to ensure that
    pine needles, low-lying brush and other forest litter will burn,
    said Peter Fole, associate director of the Ecological Restoration
    Institute at Northern Arizona University. Fire managers also need
    enough wind to ventilate the area so smoke doesn't become too
    heavy, he said.
    But weather that is too windy and dry can create opportunities
    for runaway fires.
    "Fire managers wrestle with those decisions," Fole said.
    "They have to make some difficult and public decisions."
    The overwhelming number of prescribed burns do what they are
    supposed to do - clear low-level grasses and trees that stoke
    wildfires and can blacken tracts of forests. Treated areas burn
    with less intensity, sparing large trees.
    But occasionally, prescribed burns grow out of control, as the
    one on the South Rim of the canyon did Wednesday.
    The planned 1,665-acre blaze spewed embers across planned
    containment lines, scorching an additional 235 acres.
    Officials initially reported that 285 additional acres were
    burned, but reduced their estimate after using satellite mapping to
    survey the area Thursday, said Dan Oltrogge, an incident commander
    for the fire.
    The fire was 80 percent contained late Thursday. Crews hoped to
    have the fire fully contained by Saturday evening, Oltrogge said.
    The fire came within a half-mile of park employee housing and
    Mather Point, a popular canyon overlook.
    On Thursday, Ralene and Andrew Adler, of Great Neck, N.Y., were
    at Mather Point, which had been closed part of the day Wednesday.
    The Adlers said they had never heard of prescribed burns until
    Wednesday, when they talked to rangers after smelling smoke and
    seeing soot-covered firefighters.
    At first, they were disappointed that the fire could hamper
    their first trip to the canyon. But by Thursday, they chalked it up
    to part of their vacation story.
    "To me, it was so fascinating. That's part of the experience,"
    Ralene Adler said.
    Across federal lands, authorities did prescribed burns on 1.79
    million acres in 2002, according to the National Interagency Fire
    Center.
    Roy Johnson, NIFC's manager for planning and resources, said
    less than 1 percent of those fires escaped the planned area.
    He noted that authorities must develop an exhaustive plan for
    burns, including everything from how to manage the smoke to
    contingency plans.
    Still, the process is not foolproof, as the sudden wind shift on
    Wednesday demonstrated.
    "It's a combination of science and art - and luck," Johnson
    said.
    Whitted, who was acting as a spokesman for the team fighting the
    Grand Canyon fire, said fire managers felt they had to treat the
    area burned on Wednesday before the hot summer months, especially
    because it is in an important visitor hub.
    "Sometimes, you have to take calculated risks," he said.
    ---
    Associated Press Writer Michelle Rushlo in Phoenix contributed
    to this report.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
    NAU's Ecological Research Institute: http://www.eri.nau.edu/
    Grand Canyon National Park: http://www.nps.gov/grca/

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    SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) - A wind-driven fire burning in the
    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest grew to an estimated 5,500 acres
    by Wednesday night, authorities said.
    Some of the acreage total included burnout operations as nearly
    300 firefighters tried to keep the blaze from reaching a small town
    on the Arizona-New Mexico border.
    Fire spokesman Bob Dyson said the Three Forks Fire was about 4
    miles from buildings in Nutrioso, which has about 200 homes and up
    to 500 residents.
    Dyson said Apache County authorities have told Nutrioso
    residents to be on alert for possible evacuations.
    "So far, that has not happened," Dyson said.
    The fire was not threatening any other town or structures and
    there was no immediate estimate for containment, according to
    Dyson.
    Winds that gusted up to 60 mph grounded an air attack on the
    fire for most of Wednesday although Dyson said the winds died down
    enough for air tankers and helicopters to make several drops of
    water and retardant on the blaze for about 2½ hours until dusk.
    Ground crews were working overnight on burnout operations on the
    fire, which was burning spruce and fir trees along with some open
    pine stands.
    Strong winds blew embers up to a quarter-mile away but Dyson
    said the fire lines dug Tuesday night were holding "except for a
    couple spots.
    "We're now connecting the dots, doing some burnouts and trying
    to keep spotting down to a minimum," Dyson added.
    Apache-Sitgreaves spokesman Jon Schendel said investigators
    believed the fire, which was reported around noon Tuesday, was
    human-caused.
    No open fires were permitted throughout the state Wednesday due
    to high winds and low humidity.

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    Post June 13

    Wildfire chars at least 100 acres in Coronado National Forest

    (Sierra Vista-AP) -- There's a second wildfire burning in
    Arizona today.
    The Mud Fire has charred at least 100 acres of Coronado National
    Forest land by this afternoon.
    The blaze was reported around 8:20 this morning and forest
    officials are unsure of its origin.
    There is no estimate for containment.
    The fire is burning south of Sierra Vista near Fort Huachuca but
    no structures are threatened at this time.
    Forest spokeswoman Marylee Peterson says two military aircraft
    were dropping retardant on the flames while five fire engines and
    one helicopter were at the scene along with several hotshot crews.



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    Post June 13

    NUTRIOSO, Ariz. (AP) - Reduced wind helped firefighters subdue a
    7,900-acre wildfire Saturday in the Apache-Sitgreaves National
    Forest, diminishing the threat to vacation homes and cottages in
    this tiny community in eastern Arizona, fire officials said.
    Residents were packed and 25 fire trucks were stationed around
    the edges of Nutrioso but the wildfire appeared to be headed away
    from the community of about 500.
    The fire was 40 percent contained Saturday in meadows and a
    mixture of pine, spruce and fir trees, and it remained a little
    more than a mile from the area designated as the trigger point for
    evacuations, authorities said.
    "The threat to Nutrioso is greatly diminished. No evacuations
    are expected," said fire spokesman Jon Schendel. "Things are
    looking real good."
    More than 750 personnel were fighting the blaze Saturday. Fire
    officials said they expected the blaze to be fully contained by
    Thursday.
    Residents, however, were told to remain on alert.
    Chip Chipman, 65, said Saturday that he and his wife still had
    their truck packed with essential and sentimental items.
    "I can't worry too much about what I can't control," said
    Chipman. "It is just a matter of waiting and hoping things pass us
    by."
    Authorities believe the blaze was started by a camper. Camping
    gear was found in the area but authorities had no immediate
    suspects, said Dyson.
    In neighboring New Mexico, firefighters focused on burnout
    operations Saturday to ensure that a 57,500-acre wildfire in the
    Capitan Mountains did not get ahead of them. The fire was 80
    percent contained Saturday.
    The month-old fire was sparked by lightning six miles northeast
    of Capitan in south-central New Mexico. It has burned 12 cabins.
    Fire officials said calm weather helped contain a blaze in
    Albuquerque along the Rio Grande that destroyed three structures
    and forced evacuations of more than 100 homes.
    Authorities said the fire was sparked Thursday by welding or
    grinding equipment, and have charged three men with negligent
    arson.
    A fire that broke out Saturday in the Zuni Mountains in western
    New Mexico had grown to between 500 and 700 acres and forced
    evacuation of a campground in a popular recreation area.
    The fire was in a steep, rugged area within the Cibola National
    Forest near Mt. Sedgwick in western New Mexico. Fire officials said
    no structures were threatened.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

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    Post June 15th

    NUTRIOSO, Ariz. (AP) - A 7,905-acre wildfire burning in the
    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest was 85 percent contained Tuesday
    and was still expected to be fully contained by Thursday, forest
    officials said.
    About 400 firefighters worked to mop up and dump water on the
    hot spots of the Three Forks fire burning near the New Mexico line.
    Full containment was expected by Thursday night, said Dorman
    McGann, a spokesman for the crew fighting fire.
    The fire, which was burning ponderosa pines, mixed conifers and
    grass, wasn't threatening any structures, McGann said.
    Officials believe the fire, which started June 8, was ignited by
    people.
    -----
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

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    Post June 24th

    BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) - Firefighting was finished Thursday
    after a 13-square-mile wildfire in the Virgin Mountains of southern
    Nevada and northwest Arizona.
    "We've got containment and we're going home," said Dorothy
    Harvey, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman on the Nickel fire.
    A command post was being dismantled at an elementary school in
    Bunkerville, with most of the 492 firefighters drawn to the
    8,404-acre fire reassigned elsewhere in the West.
    Harvey said 26 would remain to watch for flare-ups and
    rehabilitate fire lines in sensitive desert habitat about 12 miles
    south of Mesquite and 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
    People might see smoke in the area during the next couple of
    months from smoldering sage, pinon and juniper pine, the BLM
    spokeswoman added.
    The fire was sparked by a June 16 lightning strike. Two
    firefighters reported minor injuries and several abandoned corrals
    were consumed, but no homes or structures were damaged.

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    Post July 5th

    SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters widened a defensive ring
    around a mountaintop observatory Monday, trying to hold back two
    wildfires and protect a powerful telescope under construction.
    The crews in southeastern Arizona used bulldozers and fire
    retardant around the Mount Graham International Observatory, which
    has two operating telescopes and the $120 million
    soon-to-be-completed Large Binocular Telescope. The ground crews
    were helped by an air tanker plane dropping retardant.
    "The building's not going to burn, but the smoke and heat could
    do some real damage to the instruments inside," said Pruett Small,
    a fire official.
    Researchers from around the world use the observatory, which is
    an extension of the University of Arizona. When fully operational
    in 2005, the Large Binocular Telescope will be the world's most
    technologically advanced optical telescope. It's expected to yield
    images nearly 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space
    Telescope.
    The observatory, consisting of eight buildings, encompasses 8½
    acres of pine forest on Mount Graham's 10,470-foot Emerald Peak and
    is surrounded by a 200-foot-wide clearing. It also has a sprinkler
    system that officials said would be turned on if flames came within
    a quarter-mile.
    One of the two threatening fires was a lightning-sparked blaze
    that had grown to more than 6,200 acres by Monday. It was burning
    less than a mile southeast of the $200 million-plus observatory.
    A nearby blaze that had grown to more than 6,500 acres prompted
    the evacuation of the observatory and 85 cabins on the mountain
    Friday. That fire was about 3 miles northwest of the observatory.
    "I can't hardly stand it to think there's a fire up there,"
    said Verna Colvin, whose family owns a cabin in Turkey Flat. "It
    won't be the same if it burns up. It's like my life is going."
    In central Arizona, the threat posed to the city of Payson by an
    85,000-acre wildfire eased after crews reinforced their fire lines
    near the forest community. "The threat to Payson is basically
    minimal," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Payne said. "We
    missed the bullet on this one."
    The U.S. Forest Service sent tanker planes to help Arizona. The
    planes, former Navy P-3 Orions, arrived Sunday, two days after
    federal officials said the aircraft's private operator had
    demonstrated they are safe to fly, said Ken Frederick, a fire
    information officer.
    In Alaska, an evacuation order remained in effect for 277 homes
    and businesses threatened by a blaze some 30 miles north of
    Fairbanks that had spread across 307,000 acres. The blaze began to
    die down somewhat Monday, with help from light rain and high
    humidity.
    Similar conditions aided firefighters battling a 200,000-acre
    fire about 50 miles northeast of Fairbanks.
    There are 62 active fires in Alaska. So far this year, wildfires
    have burned more than 1.8 million acres in the state.
    In central Washington, two fires near Lake Chelan have burned a
    total of nearly 5,500 acres. There were no reports of structure
    damage or serious injuries. Hundreds of firefighters were trying to
    make headway against the two fires before expected high winds later
    in the week. Helicopters scooped water from the Columbia River and
    Lake Chelan to drop on hot spots.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Mount Graham Observatory: http://mgpc3.as.arizona.edu
    Alaska Fire Service: http://fire.ak.blm.gov
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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    Post July 5th

    By AMANDA LEE MYERS
    Associated Press Writer
    SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) - Mount Graham residents hoped for the best
    and prepared for the worst as one of two wind-whipped wildfires
    edged closer to cabins there.
    At a meeting with fire officials Monday night in nearby Safford,
    community members expressed gratitude toward firefighters, anger
    with environmentalists and concern for their summer cabins.
    Shenoa Greywolf of Safford said the mountain is sacred to her
    and her husband, who are both Native Americans.
    "I'm crying and praying everyday," she said. "Mount Graham is
    my backyard."
    The lightning-sparked Gibson fire had grown to 8,550 acres by
    Monday. The nearby Nuttall blaze was at 7,810 acres.
    The two fires prompted the evacuation of a $200 million-plus
    observatory and about 90 cabins from two communities on the
    mountain Friday.
    Strong winds and dry conditions Monday started pushing the
    Gibson fire south toward the community of Turkey Flat, which has 74
    cabins. Fire officials said flames could reach the community by
    Tuesday.
    Greywolf said her husband is a medicine man and uses plants on
    the mountain to heal elders who live nearby.
    "Fire is burning the plants and they won't come back," she
    said. "Some of our elders won't go to doctors, so we're going to
    have a lot of people getting sick."
    Others at the meeting disagreed with the way fire officials have
    handled the Gibson blaze. One of them was Walt Friauf, who was in
    charge of fire management in Graham County from 1972 to 1989.
    "They did not aggressively attack the fire after it started,"
    he said. Some at the meeting blamed environmentalists for stopping tree
    removal on the mountain.
    "We used to take out old trees and we never had big fires,"
    said Eden resident Rex Owens. "Then we got the tree huggers and
    squirrel lovers in here."
    Oltrogge tried to calm the community's fears, but he was frank.
    "We're a long way from having these contained," he said.
    "You're going to see that smoke for a long, long time."

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    Post July 7th

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The telescopes at the Mount Graham
    International Observatory peer into the heavens, seeking drama
    miles up in the sky. These days, though, the drama is much - much -
    closer to home.
    A mountainside wildfire was within a quarter-mile of a $200
    million mountaintop observatory Wednesday and firefighters are
    struggling to save the facility and the promises it can offer
    science.
    It is the second time in eight years that a forest fire has
    threatened the observatory and scientists fear that even if the
    building doesn't burn, the smoke and heat could damage the delicate
    instruments inside.
    The observatory is surrounded by a broad cleared area and has
    sprinklers. Fire lines around the blaze were holding Wednesday
    evening, said fire crew spokesman Bill Duemling. Firefighters
    turned their attention to saving summer homes in two small
    communities.
    The observatory's third and largest telescope is partly
    finished. Once completed, the $120 million Large Binocular
    Telescope will become the world's most powerful optical telescope,
    capable of producing images nearly 10 times sharper than those from
    the Hubble Space Telescope.
    One of its honeycombed glass mirrors - 8.4 meters in diameter -
    is in place and its twin is being polished. The second mirror could
    be installed as early as the fall of 2005.
    Coupled with technology called adaptive optics to adjust and
    correct for the Earth's turbulent atmosphere, the telescope will
    have unprecedented capabilities - power, range and viewing clarity
    - within a limited range of wavelengths.
    Astronomers who plan to use it for a scheduled 330 nights a
    year, at a cost of $18,000 a night to operate, will be able to see
    planets the size of Jupiter in solar systems 20 to 30 light-years
    away.
    "This has never been done before," said Buddy Powell, director
    of the observatory, which is run by the University of Arizona. "We
    will have the opportunity to see if there are chemical elements to
    support life on other planets."
    Peter Wehinger, a University of Arizona astronomer, said one
    colleague already has detected quasars - extremely distant and
    powerful light sources - dating back nearly 13 billion years.
    There are two other telescopes that can scan deep space and
    detect tiny radiowaves atop Mount Graham, about 125 miles northeast
    of Tucson, and university officials hope to be able to build four
    more.
    But controversy has swirled around plans for the Mount Graham
    International Observatory since it got its start 20 years ago atop
    the 10,700-foot mountain.
    Environmentalists and members of an Indian tribe fought its
    development through some 40 lawsuits - eight of which ended up
    before a federal appeals court - but the University of Arizona
    prevailed.
    Opponents contended the observatory would cause the demise of
    the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, which are now imperiled
    by the wildfire. Members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, meanwhile,
    asserted development would desecrate a sacred mountain.
    Congress intervened in the project twice. In 1988, it authorized
    construction of the first telescope while exempting the project
    from review under the Endangered Species Act; in 1996, it ordered
    construction resumed after an appellate court had halted it over
    environmental issues.
    Now that flames are closing in on the facility, old arguments
    about its location also have been reignited. A wildfire in 1996
    came within a few hundred yards of the observatory complex but
    didn't damage it.
    Dr. Robin Silver, a Phoenix physician and environmentalist who
    has fought the project for two decades, said fires are a natural
    part of the ecosystem on Mount Graham, but telescopes and
    astronomers are not.
    "Over and over and over, the university astronomers were asked
    to please not build this facility in a volatile, fragile forest
    system," Silver said. "Those of us who warned them, who begged
    them and who pleaded with them ... are not going to feel
    sympathetic to whatever fate they might suffer.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Mount Graham Observatory: http://mgpc3.as.arizona.edu

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  14. #14
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    Post July 8th

    SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters battling to protect a
    mountaintop observatory from twin wildfires turned their attention
    to summer homes in the path of the flames now charring more than
    26,000 acres.
    Nearly 100 summer homes in the southeastern Arizona communities
    of Turkey Flat and Columbine remained at risk Thursday. The two
    lightning-caused blazes were about two miles apart and could
    possibly merge.
    One blaze, estimated at 16,879 acres, was burning in Wet Canyon
    and officials were worried the fire would make its way up to Turkey
    Flat, a nearby community of about 74 cabins.
    The fire also was within a quarter-mile of the $200 million
    Mount Graham International Observatory, home to some of the world's
    most powerful telescopes. and within three-quarters of a mile from
    Turkey Flat.
    The other fire, burning 9,941 acres, was about 1½ to 2 miles
    from Columbine, a small community with about 15 homes and cabins.
    It also was approaching the observatory from a different direction.
    Officials were hopeful they could save the observatory even if
    the blaze pushed toward it. A fire line was built around it,
    vegetation had been thinned and prescribed burns were conducted to
    deny fuel to the wildfire.
    "We feel really good about the observatory. The jury is still
    out on Turkey Flats," said Paul Summerfelt, deputy incident
    commander for the team fighting the fires.
    The two blazes had consumed 26,820 acres by Wednesday night and
    were considered 25 percent contained, according to authorities who
    said the firefighting effort had cost $5.8 million thus far.
    Fire crews used a variety of methods to try to staunch the
    flames: thinning vegetation, backburns, drenching the ground with
    water and wrapping cabins with aluminum to deflect heat.
    Despite the efforts, some Turkey Flat residents feared the
    flames would reach the community's cabins, many of which have been
    passed down in families for generations.
    "I just have a feeling that it's going to be all gone," said
    Judy Rhoads, adding that she and her grandchildren cry at the
    thought of the family's cabin burning.
    Elsewhere in Arizona, a fire had blackened 101,500 acres of the
    Tonto National Forest west of Payson, a town of some 14,000 people.
    The blaze was 25 percent contained on Wednesday and was not
    threatening any homes or communities.
    A separate small fire near the city forced the evacuation of
    about 85 homes for several hours Wednesday afternoon, said Emily
    Garber, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire. Residents
    returned in the evening.
    In central Washington state, firefighters made progress against
    one of two fires burning near Lake Chelan. A 4,205-acre fire about
    3 miles east of the lake and the Columbia River had led to a
    voluntary evacuation for about 45 homes in the area.
    A second fire 15 miles west of the lake was 35 percent contained
    at 7,200 acres, said Tom Knappenberger, a U.S. Forest Service
    spokesman. No homes were directly threatened by that blaze.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Mount Graham Observatory: http://mgpc3.as.arizona.edu
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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  15. #15
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    Default

    The surprise for me was that there
    is a strong group of people who feel
    the observatory has no place in this
    environment and they would actually be
    happy if it burned to the ground, like
    Mt. Stromlo in Australia.

    These same people are concerned, however,
    that a certain kind of squirrel only found
    in these parts will be terminated by these
    fires, so they are conflicted.

    Cabins can always be replaced.

    We hope the owners got their photos and
    other memorabilia out on time.

    Interesting that Sect'y Norton et al persist
    with the myth that small firefighting aircraft
    are best
    .

  16. #16
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    Post July 11th

    By ANANDA SHOREY
    Associated Press Writer
    SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) - One of the hardest things Gary Ferguson
    has ever had to do is empty his family's 43-year-old cabin as two
    wildfires threatened to destroy it along with other summer homes
    and a multimillion dollar observatory atop Mount Graham.
    "My wife broke down. She couldn't handle it," the 70-year old
    Turkey Flat resident said Sunday.
    Now that firefighters are getting closer to taming the Nuttall
    and Gibson fires, which were 65 percent contained after burning
    29,200 acres by Sunday, Ferguson said he is relieved.
    But like fire managers, Ferguson remained concerned about the
    possibility of lightning generating spot fires and flash flooding
    from storms in the area.
    "Things are looking pretty good, but never say never," said
    Bill Duemling, a spokesman for the crew fighting the blaze. "We've
    got to make sure complacency doesn't set in."
    Crews battling the Nuttall and Gibson blazes, which together are
    called the Nuttall Complex fire, will now focus most of their
    efforts on the wildfire's southern and eastern boundaries and
    around the communities of Turkey Flat and Columbine, said Greg
    Tedder, a spokesman for the team fighting the fire.
    "We've got still extremely dry fuels in the areas, and the
    steep and rugged terrain is causing problems for the crews,"
    Tedder said.
    Firefighters will remove some standing dead trees that pose a
    fire hazard and clear debris from the roads, said Dave Killebrew, a
    spokesman for the team fighting the fire.
    Some residents who were evacuated after the wildfires threatened
    their mountaintop homes in southeastern Arizona were going to
    assess the damage in the area for the first time Monday, fire
    officials said.
    Representatives from Turkey Flat, Columbine and a church camp
    were to be escorted to the charred areas on Mount Graham and report
    their findings to the other homeowners and campers, said Kent
    Romney, a spokesman for the crew fighting the fire.
    Fire managers didn't know when residents evacuated from Turkey
    Flat's 74 cabins and Columbine's 15 cabins would be able to return
    home.
    So far, crews have been able to protect the mountain communities
    of Turkey Flat and Columbine and an observatory that is home to
    some of the world's most advanced telescopes.
    Scattered thunderstorms dropped showers over the area Sunday
    afternoon but no flooding or additional fires sparked by lightning
    were reported. The chance for rain was expected to increase on
    Monday and Tuesday.
    Richard Lines, who has owned two cabins in Turkey Flat for 25
    years, is relieved firefighters have been able to save his homes,
    but he's still afraid of additional fires.
    "We have dodged the bullet this time. But unless something is
    done to restore forest health, we will be facing this constantly -
    this potential threat," said Lines, 59.
    The northern edge of the fire that was started by lightening in
    late June was still not contained but firefighters planned to let
    it burn itself out.
    Crews were also planning to start rehabilitating the burned
    areas this week by dropping seeds from the air and building
    structures to trap water and prevent erosion, Duemling said.
    There is no estimate when the fire will be fully contained.
    About 800 firefighters were fighting the wildfire Sunday
    morning, but officials reduced the number to 683 by nighttime.
    The fire, which damaged the steps of a lookout tower and
    destroyed a building containing communication equipment, had cost
    $8 million to fight by Sunday, Killebrew said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Mount Graham Observatory: http://mgpc3.as.arizona.edu
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov


    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  17. #17
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    Post July 13th

    PHOENIX (AP) - Officials on Tuesday began assessing the damage
    two wildfires wreaked on almost 30,000 acres in the southeastern
    Arizona mountains.
    An assessment team left Safford early Tuesday to examine parts
    of the Pinaleno Mountains, where the Nuttall and Gibson wildfires
    have been burning for weeks. The two blazes, which are about 15
    miles southwest of Safford, merged over the weekend and are
    collectively referred to as the Nuttall Complex.
    The Nuttall Complex had threatened a 74-cabin community of
    Turkey Flat, 15 cabins in Columbine and the $200 million Mount
    Graham International Observatory before firefighters were able to
    defend them. The communities and the observatory remained
    evacuated.
    The fire was estimated at 29,400 acres and was 75 percent
    contained Tuesday night. Officials said the cost of fighting the
    blaze stood at $9.3 million.
    The rehabilitation team will decide what needs to be done to
    heal the charred land and will begin implementing measures next
    week. The team consists of watershed specialists, soil scientists,
    biologists, archeologists and engineers.
    "We're going to look at the burned area and agree on what we
    consider to be severely burned," said Randall Smith, a Coronado
    National Forest biologist who is a member of the rehabilitation
    team.
    Severely burned land - spots where vegetation has burned off and
    soil doesn't absorb water - can lead to a number of problems, Smith
    said. Among them are downstream flooding and erosion that can cause
    land slides.
    The mixture of naked land and monsoons, late summer storms in
    the Southwest that can bring sudden heavy downpours, is a major
    concern, Smith said.
    If homes are in flood plains and the rain is heavy enough, he
    said residents in and around the Pinaleno Mountains could
    experience flooding.
    Last summer, the Aspen Fire near Tucson destroyed more than 330
    homes on Mount Lemmon and stripped vegetation from about 85,000
    acres of land.
    The naked land allowed for flooding when the monsoons hit, said
    Chris Cawein, a division manager within the Pima County Flood
    Control District.
    Cawein said the flooding damaged or destroyed more than 50 homes
    in Pima and Pinal counties and caused the death of one man who was
    swept away by the water and later found dead downstream.
    The damage caused by the flooding included entire walls being
    destroyed and pools and houses becoming filled with mud.
    Homes in the Sabino Canyon area were able to be saved by
    rehabilitation efforts like those that could be implemented on
    Mount Graham next week.
    Nuttall Complex Fire spokesman Jim Whittington said the
    rehabilitation team for Mount Graham will prepare for flooding.
    "If we do get into a situation where we are going to have
    increased water flow and increased debris flow that will affect
    roads, bridges and farms, we will set up a treatment regime," he
    said.
    Treatments could include seeding, constructing ditches to divert
    water, mulching with hay to slow water flow, removing debris and
    protecting road crossings.
    Smith said land charred by the Nuttall Complex will be
    vulnerable to flooding until vegetation grows back, which takes
    about five years.
    Forest officials had hoped to take a satellite image of the
    burned areas, but cloud cover made that too difficult Tuesday.
    "We may have to do the old-fashioned method by looking at it
    from the ground and doing a hand map," Smith said.
    The rehab team also plans to assess damage to the habitat of
    endangered Mount Graham red squirrels. Smith believes the squirrel
    habitat suffered some damage, but he was still trying to determine
    how much.
    The squirrels, which live in spruce and fir forests in the area,
    are believed to number less than 300. Biologists believe the
    squirrels have lived on the peak since the Ice Age.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Coronado National Forest: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post July 15th

    SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) - Two wildfires burning in the southeastern
    Arizona mountains remained 80 percent contained Thursday.
    Fire crews continued mop-up and rehabilitation along the
    southern and eastern flanks of the 29,400-acre Nuttall Complex
    fire, which is made up of the Gibson and Nuttall fires 15 miles
    southwest of Safford.
    The two fires in the Pinaleno Mountains were caused by lightning
    in late June.
    About 440 firefighters were working on the blaze.
    The cost of fighting the fire was estimated at about $9.5
    million.
    The fires had threatened about 100 cabins in two communities and
    the $200 million Mount Graham International Observatory before
    firefighters were able to defend the areas. The communities and the
    observatory remained evacuated, said Margo Whitt, a spokeswoman for
    the crew fighting the fire.
    Full containment was expected Monday.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    APTV 07-15-04 2043EDT
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    Post July 21st

    Small fire burning near Sedona

    SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) - A lightning caused fire on Secret Mountain
    is causing smoke to drift into the Verde Valley.
    A Coconino National Forest spokeswoman says an air tanker has
    been deployed to fight the fire.
    The air tanker has dropped retardant on the five-to-ten-acre
    fire.
    Additional aircraft are being called in
    The Secret Fire started Monday.
    A fire crew hiked into the area and found no fire, but because
    of recent erratic wind conditions, it flared up.
    Additional fire crews are being sent in to fight the blaze.
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