The Main Stream

Jun 18, 2011 8:10 PM

Monument Fire evacuees find comfort in Sierra Vista shelters

SIERRA VISTA - The Monument Fire burning south of Sierra Vista has forced thousands out of their homes, under mandatory evacuation. Many are staying at hotels or with family and friends, but others are finding comfort in evacuation shelters set up in Sierra Vista.

One evacuation shelter is set up at Buena High School (5225 E Buena School Boulevard). The other is at Apache Middle School (3305 East Fry Boulevard). More than a dozen evacuated residents stayed at each shelter Friday night.

"They slept like a rock but I was kind of restless. I was a little bit worried," said Johnny Wiley, who was evacuated two days ago.

Wiley's first night at the Buena High School evacuation shelter was a tough one.

"Just thinking about all the things going on up there and people's houses being lost," Wiley said.

Wiley had just moved into a house right near the fire line when the evacuations came through. On the verge of losing hope, he found Buena's open doors.

"Before all this stuff happened I thought, there isn't anything but cold hearted people around here but now that this happened and everybody's started coming together, I'm like hey, there is hope," Wiley said.

Over the last few days, the high school-turned-shelter has received mounds of donations.

"That's the benefit of living in a small town. People know each other, they take care of each other," said Red Cross volunteer Tom Arnold.

Arnold has watched the food, water, toiletries and clothing pile up hour after hour. He lives on the mountain and the outpouring of support from and for his neighbors represents the community he has come to know.

"Your neighbors are really concerned. Their houses are saved. And the people who are evacuated, they know what it would be like. So, it's good stuff," Arnold said.

Both shelters still have room tonight if people need a place to stay. They are still in need of towels and bedding (especially pillow cases).

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