Yarnell Fire

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.

Yarnell Hill Fire visible while approaching Peeple's Valley

Yarnell Hill Fire visible from north of Peeple’s Valley

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.

Looking across Peeple's Valley toward Yarnell

Looking across Peeple’s Valley toward Yarnell

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.

More fire flaring up well west of Yarnell

More fire flaring up well west of Yarnell

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.

Late day view as fire engulfs Yarnell

Late day view as fire engulfs Yarnell and spreads through the Weaver Mountains


5 thoughts on “Yarnell Fire

    • Mary, you are so right. These are heroes in my mind, but as I reflect upon the tragedy, I am reminded that heroes are rare only because we often do not fully recognize all the sacrifices that people make in any form of public service. We are surrounded by hundreds of heroes, and I hope we can be more aware of that.

  1. Walt,
    I am glad you pulled over on Iron Springs Rd Sunday to say hello. Drop me a line and maybe we could go out one day, share a conversation and views to be captured.
    Great job sharing what you witnessed. Your vantage point was better than mine since I did not actually head down there rather stayed on Iron Springs near Prescott to capture some images of the aftermath of the previous fire.

    • Thanks, Brian. As I said, “Great minds think alike.” I came back through the Dosie Fire area on the way home and saw two deer walking through the blackened landscape. I am working on an essay on that aftermath, though I am tied up in other ways, so may or may not get it done soon. Yes, please keep in touch!

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