This year was possibly the worst wildfire risk our communities have ever seen. Every indicator pointed to the extreme likelihood that we would suffer a catastrophic wildfire. Those indicators, collectively known as the Energy Release Components (ERC’s), were trending as high as, or higher than the year of the Rodeo-Chedeski Fire.
Now that the rains have arrived and the wildfire risk has begun to diminish, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all of you, residents and visitors, who took the information that was being provided through official sources so seriously, and did your part to keep our communities safe. I am sympathetic to the fact that fire restrictions are inconvenient, and sometimes alter your plans, but together we avoided having a significant fire that may have been devastating to our way of life.
I would also like to thank Navajo County Emergency Management for coordinating the fire restrictions throughout the region. Additionally, the Arizona State Forestry Division and the Forest Service for working so well with their local partners and prepositioning much needed resources in the area.
I would like to thank the local government officials and other fire service partners for working diligently to combine our efforts and educate the public on the risks, and the law enforcement agencies who were diligent about enforcing the restrictions.
Finally, I would like to thank the members of our business community who removed prohibited items from their shelves and/or posted signage to assist us in educating the people in our community about fire restrictions.
In closing, I do not want to indicate that the risk of wildfire is over in the White Mountains. We live in an environment where fire is a natural part of our landscape; it will always be. As a community, we must be diligent to mitigate that risk where we can in order to preserve the areas that we know and love. There have been tremendous efforts over the years to return the surrounding forests and reservation lands to their pre-settlement conditions.
I ask that those efforts continue but also that each resident and visitor would continue to take an active role in making their personal property safer from the risk of wildfire.
If you have questions about what you can do to protect your property, please contact Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District at (928) 537-5100.
Bryan Savage is the fire chief for Tiber Mesa Fire & Medical District.