Monday, June 06, 2011

Fire Season

Most of the year we in Tucson look at reports from the rest of the nation and shake our heads, wondering why anyone would live anywhere else.

In the winter, we look at pictures of blizzards and nor'easters and hundred car pile-ups and give thanks we no longer live there.

In the spring, we watch reports of tornadoes like the one in Joplin, Missouri and even Springfield, Massachusetts and feel sorry for the poor people who have suffered when one of those monstrous storms passes through.

In summer, we look at places on the Gulf Coast and Florida and give thanks that we don't get hurricanes here.

And all year long we wonder what those people in California are thinking with earthquakes shaking the ground all the time.

But we forget that Arizona isn't heaven. Especially this year, when our rain has been more meager than usual and the storms rolling in off the Pacific bring nothing more than high winds. Large parts of Arizona are burning. You probably already knew that from watching the evening news. There's nothing real close to Tucson, but it's not that far away, either. The sheriff down in Santa Cruz County came on the evening news to announce that people living west of Rio Rico should be prepared to evacuate. Two of my coworkers live in Rio Rico and I pray that they and their families will be okay.

They're closing the Coronado National Forest, including Sabino Canyon, effective noon Thursday because of the fire danger. The drive up Mount Lemmon will be open, but you won't be able to stop at any of the overlooks. You're allowed to go to the village of Summerhaven. At least, that's what they're announcing today. Things may change later in the week. Mount Lemmon still hasn't recovered from the Aspen Fire in 2003. You can see the slashes of burned out trees at several of the turn-offs along the Catalina Highway.

I discovered a new website today while looking for news of the wildfires: Wildfire Today. There are maps of where the wildfires are and some incredible pictures of the billowing smoke. You wonder if the Wallow Fire will come under control before the first monsoon rains.

Still, despite the heat and the dry air this time of year and the threat of fire in the mountains, I'd be hard-pressed to live anywhere else.
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