I learned late Sunday of the death of nineteen firefighters in central Arizona. Although I did not know any of them personally, Prescott was almost a second home to me when I was growing up in the Verde Valley, just over one range of mountains to the east. I was also fairly familiar with the area around Yarnell, south west of Prescott, where the fire still rages. Where rugged mountains rise precipitously from the desert, it is extremely rough and difficult country. It is also bone dry and plagued by savage winds fueled by differential heating and the abrupt rise in elevation. A sudden shift in those winds is what trapped the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew and incinerated them. This is a huge tragedy and the worst day for firefighters since 9-11. The men ranged in age from 21 to mid-40s, most in their twenties. So sad to have young lives cut short in this way.
These were no novices or weekend warriors. To be designated "Hot Shot" a crew must be experienced and well trained in fighting wildfires which is a completely different science than dealing with structural fires in metropolitan areas. There are probably only about 100 such groups nationwide. I cannot say which is "worse" but when you think of hiking several very rough miles with heavy gear and having to use mostly hand tools in battling an untamed monster of a blaze, often so intense it creates its on weather in terms of wind etc. you may have a vague idea of what these crews are dealing with. This team had been in New Mexico just a few weeks ago helping on some of the fires in the northern part of the state; they were actually training and mentoring a newer New Mexico team as well. So we feel the loss here too. Governor Martinez was near tears when she ordered flags flown at half staff for them. A crack team from the Zuni Reservation has gone to Yavapai County to take over part of the work the Granite Mountain crew cannot now accomplish. I can only pray they all go straight to The Best Place and that their families and friends find a little solace in knowing almost the whole world shares their pain.
Deirdre has been working along on a story about a pilot who flies on of the fire fighting red tailed "slurry bombers" and when that tale is done it will be dedicated in memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I will be watching to see if a fund is set up to assist the families and if so I will be giving a good share of those royalties to that cause.
Meanwhile here in New Mexico, a brutal fire still rages in the Gila Wilderness, the so-called Silver Fire. Although it is some distance from Silver City; its still in that county and region anyway. Friends there are shocked and stricken since the north western part of that region went up in smoke last year and now the eastern part will be gone as well. I have hated wildfires since I watched part of my beloved Mingus Mountain and that Black Hills Range (the area where the Silver fire started is also called the Black Range) burn back when I was a teenager. All these fires are tragic and when structures and lives are lost, even more so. The recent management policies of the Forest Service are felt by many to be making the situation much worse as are the financial cutbacks mandated by the government's economic fiasco and the current climate fluctuation to hot and dry is of course a huge factor as well. It is a horrific mess beyond a doubt.
So I can only pray for all those who are still out there on the fire lines, doing their best. They are as much or more in harm's way as any soldier in the battle zone and I honor them all for their courage and sacrifices. Each of them is a true hero and may the Powers That Be protect them from harm. And please, no more bad fires this year. Between the Black Forest fire in Colorado, several in New Mexico and this latest Arizona one, it is not being a good year. So much forest and wild lands I know and love is being destroyed. To say nothing of homes, valuable grazing land, wildlife and habitat and now lives. Please pray with me!
No pictures with this one; what could I possibly add? To show what used to be is fruitless and you can find more about the team etc. at various sites. Here is one link: http://news.yahoo.com/town-mourns-ariz-hotshots-storms-threaten-fire-142533291.html
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!