Monsoon rains hit Prescott hard today, and I thought I should check on the Dosie Fire to see if erosion were occurring. While there witnessing heavy rain on the ash-blackened landscape, I saw a huge conflagration grow quickly to the south, and alarm bells went off in my head. I guessed Yarnell was in trouble, so I shot south through Skull Valley. As I approached Peeple’s Valley, the fire storm was shockingly large. I suspected the road ahead would be closed by safety personnel, so I took the Ruger Ranch Road and walked through dense chaparral on a ridge to get a viewpoint across Peeple’s Valley. Sure enough, the road was blocked off a half mile ahead.
I spent the next hour or two watching this massive fire morph and change like the Balrog in the depths of the mountain in Lord of the Rings. One minute the wind would be blowing west, then suddenly it would shift south and east. A north wind nearly blew me off the ridge.
My hopes for Yarnell would go up, only to be crashed as the fire turned on a dime and headed toward the town. Aircraft were doing all they could, but when I saw a string of ambulances heading toward the fire, I suspected the worst.
When I got home, I got the bad news–19 firefighters dead by the monster, worst fire disaster ever for Arizona. These were the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the best of the best. Homes and businesses in Yarnell also destroyed. There will be time for analysis later, but for now, I grieve with the families, friends, and community members touched by this terrible disaster.