My dear friends, my community, as you will hear at this evening's 6 PM meeting at the Rodeo Community Center, the fire has progressed to a very serious turning point, triggering a shift in strategy among the firefighters. Horseshoe 2 has crossed the bottom of South Fork and is now burning uphill toward the Herb Martyr Road, the Southwest Research Station, and Cave Creek Canyon. Firefighters have retrenched, and the new checkline along this northwest fire perimeter will be the road through Cave Creek Canyon.
Fire Map at crew briefing on May 15, 2011
With the exceedingly dry fuels and winds predicted from the southwest, blowing steadily at about 10 mph and gusting to 25 mph, there is little hope of stopping the fire before Cave Creek Canyon. Our best hope lies in slowing the fire's advance and in reducing its intensity through very careful, very patient back-burning. This back-firing will be happening today in the Herb Martyr area and possibly in Cave Creek Canyon. (I wasn't clear about when the Cave Creek Canyon portion of the blacklining will begin.) All homes within the threatened area have protection in place.
Detail of fire map at crew briefing on May 15, 2011
From the main Cave Creek Canyon road, the firefighters will attempt (against the wind) to deflect the fire from the lower canyon and into the high country, to keep it away from Portal. They will also attempt to hold the fire along a ridge coming off Centella Peak, in order to keep it out of the East Turkey Creek drainage.
Positive accomplishment can be reported from the southern perimeter, where partial burn-outs north of Horseshoe Canyon Road continue to be conducted, and that line has been holding. More remains to be done, and crews hope to have a chance to do more firing there tonight, before wind strengthens again on Monday. The eastern perimeter and northernmost boundary remain secure.
The current plan is to hold the fire south of the Cave Creek Canyon road, east of Chiricahua Peak, north of Horseshoe Canyon Road, and west of State Line Road.
The community may be facing more evacuations in upper Cave Creek Canyon over the next few days, particularly around the research station. I expect that matter will be addressed at this evening's meeting. Hold together, everyone. If you are in the area now threatened, please be prepared to leave, taking your animals, your valuable papers and computer, any irreplaceable pictures, and prescriptions. If you need help or feel overwhelmed, please let others know. We'll take care of each other, and pull through this.
Today's numbers: 22,110 acres burned; 20% containment; 614 people working on the fire; no structures lost; 3 injuries, 2 of them apparently sprained ankles.
Expect the fire behavior to be very active today and tomorrow. It's a time of testing for us. Reach out if you need to.