Skip to comments.Growing Brown Fire draws national concern. Sheriff to develop pre-evacuation plan
Posted on 04/15/2014 7:47:16 AM PDT by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA The Brown Fire in the Huachuca Mountains, which began Sunday, exploded from nearly 25 acres to about 300 acres of blackened brush and timber with no containment reported as of 7 p..m. Monday.
The rapid expansion in a little more than 24 hours requires a national Type I Incident Management Team which will be in place by 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the Coronado National Forest.
The expanded size of the fire was done by an airborne GPS survey, she added.
Concerns that the fire may spill over into populated areas is leading the Cochise County Sheriffs Office to begin work on a fire response protocol, Sheriffs Spokeswoman Carol Capas said early Monday afternoon.
But after the announcement by the Forest Service Monday evening, she said, The Sheriffs Office and the Sierra Vista Police Department will be doing pre-evacuation notices beginning Tuesday afternoon.
But individuals who are given such notices are only being warned to prepare to leave if it becomes necessary, she added.
People can follow the Sheriffs updates on Twitter, @ccsheriff, she said. The department also has a Facebook page, which can be found by searching Cochise County Sheriff.
Air assets began being used Sunday both fixed wing and helicopter to drop retardant and water on the fire.
Initially there were two air tankers, one is a DC-10, which is considered a Very Large Air Tanker, and a P-2V large air tanker and two helicopters, Schewel said.
More air, people assets
By Monday afternoon air assets increased to another P-2V, two additional smaller helicopters, two SEATS Single Engine Air Tankers and a large helicopter air tanker, she said, adding additions were made later Monday after a review of the GPS assessment to include three more medium helicopters and a large helicopter air tanker .
The Forest Services Air Tanker Base on Fort Huachuca has not yet opened but is expected to do so in May, meaning planes like the DC-10 and the P-2Vs have to fly out of other airfields the DC-10 is currently located in the Phoenix area.
Manpower assets were also increasing to support the one 20-member Silver City, N.M., Hotshots, with four more ordered, Schewel said.
The Ironwood Hotshots from Tucson arrived Monday afternoon and three other Hotshot crews, one each from Gila, N.M., and Mesa and Payson, both from Arizona, are on their way to assist, she said, adding on scene is a Fort Grant Arizona Forestry 20-person team, who are not Hot Shots, and the 10 members of the local Coronado Crew 5.
The fire began on Fort Huachuca property it was reported at 2:41 p.m. and spilled over on to Forest Service property, she said.
The incident command post is located at the the forts golf course picnic area and the current base camp is at a recreational site in the posts Lower Garden Canyon area.
Post Spokeswoman Tanja Linton said soldier training in Garden Canyon sites have been canceled, as have using the forts nearby gunnery ranges.
At the recreational area, three pumpkins, devices from which helicopters can dip buckets into to lift water to the fire, were in operation. One pumpkin could hold 5,000 gallons another 3,500 and the third 2,500. A medium sized helicopter can lift 240 gallons on each trip and Monday from pumpkins which were kept full by water tenders to the fire and back was happening in less than 10 minutes.
Another contract helicopter from the Coronado National Forests Douglas facility was busy ferrying members of an assessment team to the blaze site to determine the best action to be taken to fight it , Schewel said.
A strategy is hold the fire at the ridge tops and burn out below them, she said.
In the meantime, air tankers will drop retardant to restrict the fire and support firefighters cutting fire
lines on the ground, Schewel said.
Wind is a major fire factor
A major factor is the wind, she said.
With the blaze starting at a high altitude in a bowl-like area, a fires behavior can change quickly and often, Schewel said.
Early Monday morning smoke rising out of an area of the Huachuca Mountains appeared as if was steam from hot gases emanating from a volcanic caldera.
Later a tall dark gray column rose which slowly turned white with the top expanding reminiscent of an atomic bombs mushroom cloud.
Schewel the Brown Fire is burning at an elevation of 8,000 feet where it is cooler and more moist which is why it has to be stopped before it reaches lower elevations where plant life is drier and fire is more prone to spread rapidly.
And apparently, the Brown Fire is human caused, which is being investigated, and why people have to take personal responsibility not to start a fire, she said.
A glance at recent history
It was on June 12 a Sunday in 2011 when the Monument Fire, which was human caused began close to the border near the Coronado National Memorial.
Moving north it eventually burned about 30,000 aces and destroyed a number of houses and out buildings during its more than two week run in Cochise County, which saw hundreds of firefighters arrive to combat the blaze, along with numerous air assets.
There were no deaths due to the fire.
Now, the Brown Fire has begun again on a Sunday well north of the Monument Fire ignition point and once again firefighters and air assets are battling the blaze to ensure it doesnt grow to thousands of acres forcing people to once again leave their homes.
I hope nobody gets hurt. When I visited the Fort, I was told that smugglers had set up observation posts on the mountain, to watch the roads and some of the arroyos, so they’d know what path to take. This may disrupt that a bit!
I wish Marine Snipers would disrupt the Mexican Cartel’s Smuggler Observation posts.
At least now they are addmitting that.
That’s the wrong location for the Canyon Fire.
Apparently a different fire denoted by the triangle, but if one uses the web site, zooms in and turns on the MODIS data, the fire location near Sierra Vista shows up.
As of 9PM Monday, the fire was on the ridgelines around the Brown Canyon/Ramsey Canyon bowl. I went out on the porch last night and saw 4 distinct areas along the ridges where flames were visible.
This morning, the amount of smoke appears to be less than yesterday afternoon. Hopefully, their encirclement strategy works. Otherwise, we'll have some fairly significant risk of damage to homes, people, and recreational areas. The Ramsey Canyon Preserve, home to a large migratory hummingbird population, will be in the path of the fire if it spills down into Ramsey Canyon.
The number one priority is firefighter and public safety.
Weather today will be clear with above average temperatures. Possible showers and thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.
Hand crews are going in today to assess and see if they can begin to make progress in the rugged terrain.
There will be firefighters going into the Ramsey Canyon area to do a recon and make plans in the event the fire is not contained where it is currently.
There are numerous aircraft working the fire to include a DC-10 which is considered a Very Large Air Tanker, two P2’s and several helicopters to include a sky crane. Other aircraft have been requested and are expected within the next two days.
A Type 1 Incident Management Team is still expected to take command of the fire by late this afternoon.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s office, Sheriff Assist Team (SAT) members and Arizona Rangers will begin delivering information sheets (pre-evacuation preparation) to residents in the area of Ramsey Canyon today.
So you would encourage military support of Federal law enforcement operations. Interesting.
Don't see a lot of that around here.