A few weeks back on June 26th, 2014, a human caused Forest Fire started on the White Mountain Apache Reservation near the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The fire spread to a few thousand acres the first couple of days.
I first heard about this fire from my father-in-law, Steve. My wife’s family own a cabin on the Whiting Homestead in the middle of the Apache-Sitgreaves forest; Steve and his wife Karen were at the cabin doing some maintenance and enjoying the cool mountain air, when a plume of smoke developed overhead.
The sheriff arrived soon after and evacuated the homestead; Steve informed us kids and the worry started. Is our family’s 100+ year old homestead in danger? Yep, it sure was. I vigilantly refreshed the Incident Information System webpage looking for recent updates and maps of the burned area and burn direction.
I searched Twitter for updates from News outlets and others about the #SanJuanFire. I connected with many distant & close cousins online as we all kept each other updated as to whether or not we would be enjoying our bi-annual family reunion July 10th-13th.
Our family held a 24 hour religious fast, abstaining from food & water, as we prayed to God the homestead, firefighters, and other ranches would be safe.
On June 30th the fire had signs of containment and no further growth was happening beyond the prescribed back burning the firefighters were doing. It was then decided that the reunion would be canceled, as we had no eta on when the fire would be completely contained and when the forest would open again.
On July 2nd, the evacuations were lifted. We were cleared to go back into the homestead. The fire was 70% contained and we were relieved that no further damage had been done. By July 5th, the fire was 95% contained and fire restrictions were even lifted for the Apache-Sitgreaves forest.
Monsoon rain, back burning, and forest thinning account for such a successfully fought forest fire. When we compare the San Juan Fire to previous large fires; Wallow fire and Rodeo-Chediski fire, we can see how amazing of a job was done by the hotshot crews, and how at risk the homestead really was.
I thank the men and women that put their lives at risk to fight fire; both in cities and in the middle of the forest. Here is a photo of Southwest Area IMT #4, just a few of the many who worked the San Juan Fire.
Photos from the Event:
I ended up spending three of the four weekends in July up in that area. Both at the Whiting Homestead, the Whiting Sawmill and at Greenspeak. I love that area, it truly is heaven on earth for me. I am so relieved it was spared from the San Juan Fire.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/hashtag/sanjuanfire?src=hash
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sanjuanfireinfo
InciWeb – http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3912/