Skip to comments.McCain was right: Monument fire caused by humans
Posted on 05/15/2012 10:43:56 AM PDT by SandRat
While officially the investigation into last years Monument Fire is closed-unsolved, there is no doubt it was human-caused. What is not known is whether it was accidentally started, or was lit as a diversion for criminal activities involving drug or people smuggling, Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said.
We know it was human-caused, there was no lightning in the area, Schewel said during a telephone interview with the Herald/Review Monday.
Monday she sent out a press release which highlighted investigations of the Monument and Horseshoe 2 fires in Cochise County done by forest service wildland fire investigators.
Investigation of the Monument Fire, which started on June 12 on the Coronado National Memorial, determined an ignition starting point in the United States about 180 yards north of the border with Mexico. The fire immediately spread into Mexico, the release states.
The two-week blaze burned more than 32,000 acres, mostly in the east side canyons of the Huachuca Mountains, while also spilling over into some of the low lands, across Highway 92.
Nearly 90 structures, to include homes, businesses and out buildings, as well as other personal property such as vehicles, were destroyed or damaged.
No lives were lost, however thousands of residents in southern Sierra Vista, as well as Hereford and Palominas, had to evacuate their homes; some more than once.
The general location of the suspected start of the fire is commonly used by narcotics smugglers, human traffickers, and undocumented aliens.
A network of smuggling trails exists on the south side of the fence in Mexico that lead in the direction to where the fire started, she added.
Although the specific origin of the fires start was identified, investigators were unable to locate evidence linking any individual or persons to starting the blaze, Schewel said.
No footprints, clothing fabric, campfire rings or other indicators of human activity were located, she said.
The specific origin of the fire was identified, near a well-defined user-created trail all potential natural causes of ignition were eliminated and all human causes of ignition were eliminated from consideration, except incendiary, the release stated. No evidence of a source of ignition was found at the scene and it is presumed the source was removed. The fire investigation recommended that the case should be listed as Closed-Unsolved but reopened if additional evidence or leads are discovered.
Cochise County Sheriff Office Chief Deputy Rod Rothrock said there is no doubt in most reasonable peoples minds the fire was not an accident.
It definitely wasnt an accident, he said during a telephone interview Monday.
During the fire, and the aftermath of flooding which happened in early July last year, Rothrock was, along with Sheriff Larry Dever, the law enforcement spokesman at public meetings, which were held most nights during the wildfire.
It was up to him, or the sheriff, to put a local law enforcement face on the situation to keep the local pubic informed of what was being done by county officials and to provide assistance while ensuring the safety of the residents.
There were many lessons learned from last years fire for the county, he said.
Besides the Monument Fire, the Horseshoe 2 Fire hit the eastern part of the county, burning nearly 223,000 acres and destroying 23 structures.
Schewel noted Forest Service investigators said the area where the Horseshoe 2 Fire started was back-burned to stop the spread of the blaze, which impacted on the investigation.
Investigators were unable to determine the a cause or point of origin (for the Horseshoe 2), she said. However, one investigator noted fairly fresh tracks, which were consistent with shoes being worn by illegal immigrants as well as burlap bags consistent with that of narcotics smugglers, Schewel said. Further along, a lay-up area used by illegal immigrants had a number of discarded Sterno cans, which are commonly used for warming food but they were old and rusted, she said.
Due to the delay reaching the area or origin and the fact that the area had been back burned, investigators were unable to determine a cause of point of areas. The recommendation is for the case to be closed due to lack of investigative leads, with the cause of the fire undetermined, Schewel said.
While officially it cant be called human caused, she told the Herald/Review, as with the Monument Fire, there was no lightning in that area either.
Rothrock said the county Sheriff Office, as well as other local law enforcement, were working two major wildfires at the same time.
The result is there has been, and continues to be an upgrade of the Sheriffs conference room, turning it into a Emergency Operation Center.
The upgrades include better radio capabilities, Wi-Fi and other items such as hooking the EOC to backup power, he said.
Last years Monument Fire showed the weakness of local and federal capabilities, especially in the communications arena, Rothrock said.
At that time, emergency generators at the federal governments command post would fail, he said. Communications, which are critical in the time of fires, were disrupted, Rothrock said.
Sometimes even if lines were open they were not good, the chief deputy added.
Sometimes it was like yelling into a cave, Rothrock said.
2012 fire activity expected to be above average
The 2011 fire season for the Coronado National Forest was historic and in some cases unprecedented in modern times.
A total of 365,000 acres under Forest Service protection were effected by 86 different wildfires, with 50 of them human caused.
The 2012 fire season is expected to again experience above-average fire activity.
It is the policy of the U.S Forest Service to investigate all wildfires to determine who is responsible for causing the fire, pursue criminal charges if applicable, and vigorously pursue administrative or civil recovery of any and all related costs for any fire determined to be human caused.
Many of these successful cases were possibly only with the assistance of the public and other cooperators.
The Coronado National Forest asks for the publics continued cooperation and vigilance in helping us to reduce the amount of wildland fires during this coming fire season.
The Coronado National Forest implemented Stage I fire restrictions on Monday.
Restrictions will remain in place until July 31 or until they are rescinded due to decreased fire danger. The restrictions have become necessary due to increased fire danger and are being implemented to protect public health, safety and National Forest System lands, resources and facilities.
Current prohibitions on all ranger districts of the Coronado National Forest are:
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove fire, except within a developed recreation site, or improved site.
Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter, that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Violation of the prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
Fireworks are always prohibited on National Forest lands.
For additional information on fire restrictions on public lands in Arizona and New Mexico call the toll-free Regional Fire Restrictions Hotline
Al Qaeda has told operatives to start fires in the west. Hmm
Illegal aliens have started dozens of fires in California that I am aware of. Hundreds of homes burned down and many deaths. The news media has a blacked out the stories.
starting the fires Americans are unwilling to start...
I thought typing in the phrase “McCain was right” would immediately trigger some sort of critical overload and hard-drive crash on FR...
I did too, but when Coronado Monument Fire started in 2011 McCain said then that illegals started it and the left went crazy. The satellite images showed he was right yet the left still went crazy. The Cochise County Sheriff said the same thing and yet the left denied it.