The Main Stream

Jun 18, 2011 12:12 AM

Tough day at the Monument Fire

SIERRA VISTA - A good start for crews working on the Monument Fire on Friday quickly turned out to be a near disaster.

More personnel arrived on scene but conditions continued to get worse, especially when the Antelope fire began just a few blocks away at Ft. Huachuca. Resources from the Monument Fire were diverted in order to get the Antelope fire successfully contained.

The Monument fire was 17% contained Thursday, but when heavy winds tossed the fire over the containment line it decreased to only 15% containment.

From there firefighters had trouble making any more progress.

Helicopters, planes, bulldozers and about 800 firefighters turned out to be no match for the fire's weapons: heat, dry vegetation and wind.

Dale Thompson, a public information officer for the Monument Fire said, "You put all those ingredients together, you get extreme flame leaks, as much as 70, 80, 90, even 100 feet in some places."

And keeping it from getting to the structures has been harder because of the structures themselves.

Thompson said, "We've got residential areas built right up against the forest and up against the national forest area. Without a lot of thinning and field reduction taking place in those areas, it really creates a problem for structure protection."

And when the firefighters have problems, so do the residents with the ever changing road blocks. In some cases, it kept some families apart. One resident expressed her concern about her son because she couldn't get in touch with him after their phones were shut off.

But for others it's not the unknown, it's the destruction that's already been done that people have on their mind. Lilia Carr was brought to tears talking about all the destroyed homes. She said, "They just lost their homes, you know? All their memories, I feel for them. It's hard."

Many questions are left unanswered about homes, but the area that is most at risk Friday is the Miller Canyon area, beyond the northwest side of this fire.

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