Mustang Mountains Technology
Monument Fire Memories
Photos from June 13, 2011, one day after the fire was reported.
A view of the fire as it came up from Coronado Memorial. The Celtic cross, a portion of which is visible on the right edge of the picture, is the cross at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Mountains.
Another view of the fire, looking up the side of the mountain south of Ash Canyon. This gives you an indication of the terrain with which the firefighters have been dealing.
The mountain side fully engaged. A full view of the cross at the shrine is visible on the right hand side.
Photos from June 14, 2011.
A view of the fire as it started up Ash Canyon.
Another view of the fire as it entered Ash Canyon. Note the gentle contours of the land as compared to the mountain sides.
This is one indicator of how bad it got. The plane is dumping retardant at the incident command post.
Photos from June 16, 2011, evacuation day.
We evacuated this day, although it was late in the afternoon when we were told we needed to do so. We spent the first part of the day clearing brush on the property. When the word to leave came down, we were told the fire was 20 to 30 minutes away. We took the next half-hour or so, during which there were no changes in the indicators, to pack up the clothes and a few of the irreplaceables (e.g., pictures, some heirloom dishes). We took the camping trailer visible in the pictures below with us.
Smoke from the mountains when we received the "get ready, get set" warning. We worked on clearing the area around the house most of the day, watching the smoke rise as the fire worked its way up the burning canyons and ridges.
When we were told to evacuate, they said we had 20 to 30 minutes before the fire reached us. We packed the clothes into the trailer immediately and worked on adding other belongings. We continued working that way for about an hour and a half, waiting for my truck to get back from dumping brush from the yard - fortunately the firefighting was intense and successful in slowing the advance of the flames. We finally pulled out with the trailer in tow and headed for my older son's house on the north side of town. We settled in there for the wait.
Photos from June 19 - 23, 2011, the waiting time
This was if not the worst day of the fire, certainly a close runner up. The winds were blowing at 40 mph in the valley and 50 mph, with gusts to 60 mph, in the canyons. None of the aircraft could fly in the winds, and there was no stopping the flames. This is the day the fire jumped the highway and made inroads into our neighborhood and threatened many more. Fortunately, this was the last day of the high winds.
A view of the smoke from the mountains on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. The winds had died down the evening before last, so the firefighters made good progress on the fire. We had heard from one of our friends on one of the fire teams our house was still standing, so we were able to return to our neighborhood, intent on rescuing any food salvageable from freezer and refrigerator storage. The refrigerated food was a complete write off except for things like the dill pickles, but the food from the freezers was still OK, and much of it still frozen through. It had only been two days since the power went out, so the insulation on the freeze boxes kept the food at least cold. We went in after dark, though, so, although we could determine gross levels of damage from the fire, we weren't able to see the details.
The aftermath in our vicinity
This gutted building housed one of the more popular restaurants in the area, and the namesake of the crossing at which it stood. Ricardo's was a Mexican restaurant of some standing in the area, and Nick's place was named after the individual who gave us Nicksville, the location at which this building stood. The third business in the building was a recently opened German delicatessen and restaurant, whose presence will be sorely missed as well. The good news: rebuilding plans are already in the works.
This stone house and its outbuildings were completely gutted, although the walls came through the blaze. Rumor has it the house and buildings date back to one of the earler homesteads in the valley. This is about 3/4 of a mile from the highway and in the broad swath portion of the canyon blow out.
Carr Canyon wash runs right by my house. In fact, the southern property line of our lot is in the wash. This is what the fire did to the wash, and the canyon. The fire stopped on the other side of the road we live on. That's about 20 feet between us and the fire.
Not everyone was as fortunate as we were. This is the only house on our street that burned, though it burned hot enough to sear the mesquite
trees in our driveway across the road. There were 14 houses lost in our area, and a total of 40, if memory serves, in the
entire fire. While any house burned is a tragedy for the former occupants, that's a small fraction of the total number of houses that were
threatened in this fire and a tribute to the efforts of the firefighters, on the ground and in the air, and their support staff.
"On a dark and stormy ... day
During the closing stages of the Type I management of the fire, discussions ensued concerning the fact the wet monsoon rains were due soon and the fire had eliminated much of the plant life that normally controls the mountain run-off. While the Forest Service had a BAER team (see the website above) detailed to the area, there wasn't a chance to get much done in the way of mitigation for the missing vegetation. As a result of 1.5 inches of rain in about an hour on the mountain side, the ash from the fire mixed with silt, ran down the mountains. At least one resident of the mountain canyons ended up with feet of this combination of ash and silt in the house, and the flow broke a 500 gallon propane tank loose from its anchors, with the tank ending up impacting another house. Boulders made many roads impassable, and the flow even threatened to wash out Highway 92.
As I stated earlier, Carr Canyon wash contains the southern property line of our lot. These pictures depict where at least some of the ash ended up. It reeks. When wet, it's gummy like clay. When it dries, it's hard as a brick. I've got places where this stuff is a foot thick and others where it's only a skim coat over the original grade. There's a lot of debris, mostly branches, mixed in with the mud. I'm hoping some rain will come along and finish rinsing this stuff off the property, but the forecast isn't calling for that.
Photos courtesy of Mr. Hal Forch, Mr. Pat Call, and Mustang Mountains Technology.