At tonight's meeting with the Forest Service and firefighters from the Type 1 fire team, the Rodeo-Portal community learned the team's current basic strategy for dealing with the Horseshoe Two fire. This fire is a handful, as many are proving to be across the West, where extremely dry and windy conditions prevail. In one day, Horseshoe Two has burned about as much ground as last year's Horseshoe Fire accomplished in weeks. That is an astonishing contrast.
Last night as Alan and I loaded our two vehicles with our most valued items, the fire lit the night so that I did not need a flashlight to avoid rattlesnakes, and the fire roared constantly in the background. (Miles away in Rodeo, DiAnn Matteson was also hearing that roar.)
Given the active fire behavior and erratic winds gusting up to 50 mph, the firefighters' professionalism and hard work is already striking: they were able to restrain the fire's movement today along the active eastern and northern perimeters, and so far have protected the homes in the fire's path (ours being one of them). Considering the extreme conditions, they did remarkably well.
Along the fire's western edge it is burning into last year's burn, and that is slowing it down, so that it has stayed thus far along the crest. Although flames were visible from the research station, it did not move into Cave Creek Canyon today. Because of the previous burn and current wind direction, the eastern and northern edges are the most active fronts for the moment.
Tomorrow we face another day of high winds. If that challenge can be successfully met, the next few days should give us a bit of a break as the wind lessens.
Neighbors are helping each other, offering a place to stay to evacuees, being sure that those less able to deal with hauling belongings are secure. A heartfelt thanks to all for your generosity and hospitality, and to the emergency teams who are steering us skillfully through rough days.
If I learn more at tomorrow's briefing, I'll add another post. We in the Chiricahuas appreciate all the concern being expressed by the larger community... and we certainly empathize with other communities across the West who are facing what may be the most extreme fire season in memory.