CURRENT NEWS . . .
Red Flag Warning for portions of southern Arizona – According to the National Weather Service, the Red Flag Warning is issued when a "combination of low humidity, strong winds, dry ground cover, and warm temperatures are expected to bring critical fire weather conditions to the warned area."
ALISO FIRE – Crews are on the scene of a new fire burning in the Rincon Mountains near Redington Pass on Thursday night. Smoke from the Aliso Fire could be seen on the mountainside from Tucson's east side. The fire's size had not yet been determined. The fire was reported at 5:50 p.m. on May 21. It is still unknown if the fire is on national park land or forest land.
Officials 'cautiously optimistic' about Oak Tree Fire near Sonoita –
The Oak Tree Fire is burning near State Route 83 in the Coronado National Forest, about 10 miles north of Sonoita. The nearest homes and structures are approximately three miles from the northeast flank, officials say. Crews continue to fight a wildfire that exploded into more than 2,000 acres Wednesday southeast of Tucson. The Oak Tree Fire is burning near State Route 83 in the Coronado National Forest, about 10 miles north of Sonoita. Thursday night the fire was reported to be 2,023 acres and 50 percent contained. The nearest homes and structures are approximately three miles from the northeast flank, officials say, with winds potentially causing more concern this afternoon. There have been no evacuations. "We definitely made progress," Michelle Fidler, public information officer for the Oak Tree Fire said. "Our crews worked deep into the night because the winds that were forecasted never materialized. But we're still going with about 20 percent containment."
FIREFIGHTER OF THE YEAR – Captain Paul Farrell was presented with the Oracle Firefighter of the Year award during the May Fire Board meeting. Captain Farrell has been employed as a full time firefighter for the past seven years and this is the second time he has received our highest award. Paul's wife and children were in the audience to watch Chief Southard and Chief Jennings present him with a plaque.
FIRE IN ORACLE DURING STORM – During the thunder storm on the afternoon of Monday, May 4th, we responded to a lightning-caused fire near Oracle State Park. Accessing the location of the fire was a little difficult. When our firefighters were able to reach the fire they discovered that the rain had apparently stopped the flames from spreading. Damage was limited to one small area centered around a single smoldering tree that was quickly cut down and extinguished. The fire in itself was not unusual, however it is interesting to note how hot the fire burned during a fairly heavy rain event. If this same situation had occurred during a non-rain event, such as the "dry lightning" storms that often lead up to our monsoon; the outcome could have been a much different situation.
This was the 4th grass/brush fire we've responded to in the past few months . . . and we haven't quite reached our normal fire season which is typically mid-May to mid-July. The grasses right now are tall and thick, however they will soon become dry and extremely flammable. If you haven't created (or maintained) your defensible space, now is certainly the time to get it done. Our trained Firewise Evaluators are always more than glad to visit your property and provide you with helpful suggestions on how you can make your home safer during a wildfire. – Fire Chief Larry Southard
Oracle's rising fire danger ignites concerns – The Oracle Volunteer Fire District is urging residents to become firewise. Evidence of a large brushfire last June is still very visible in one Oracle neighborhood. Firefighters said a linseed oil rag spontaneously combusted sending the flames through several properties. Michael Carroll lives in the neighborhood and recalled the tension when the fire moved onto his land. “I looked to the left and right and I was surrounded by fire,” said Carroll. “I turned around and saw that house and there was a two story column of fire, just a huge ball of fire.” One house was a total loss from the blaze, a third of Carroll's property charred as well. He thanks the defensible space he created around his home for saving it, something he was skeptical would even work. “This is the line where I started firewising and looked at where the fire stopped; you can almost draw a chalk line there,” Carroll said, pointing at the ground. Creating that defensible space is a technique that's even posted on roadways as you pull into Oracle.
Being firewise is something Captain Paul Farrell, with the Oracle Fire District, is pushing with its brush dump and community involvement. “We have groups from firewise go and evaluate property and let them know if they're at risk and what they can do to reduce that risk,” said Farrell.
Arizona has already had 246 wildland fires as of April 16 and those fires have charred more than 850 acres. With the worst of the season ahead and danger now switched to high, firefighters are prepared for the season ahead. “We are preparing for the worst but with training, monitoring the season and everything that's going on we're hoping for the best,” said Farrell. Farrell said creating defensible space around your home or property may give firefighters the extra seconds they need to save it.
SMOKEY SAYS FIRE STATUS IS NOW AT HIGH!! BURN PERMITS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED IN ORACLE. Please be careful out there; we recently had a small brush fire on Estill north of Grant that was caught quickly. There are three ways a spark can usually cause these brush fires: 1. from a thrown out cigarette 2. from sparks on a vehicle's dragging chain and 3. from a vehicle's hot catalytic converter contacting grass or other flammable ground source. Be aware – a single spark is all it takes!
2015 WILDFIRE TRAINING EXERCISES – On Saturday, March 21, Oracle welcomed several Fire Depts., Red Cross, Pinal County Sherriff's office, and several government fire agencies (AZ State Forestry, US Forest Service, BLM) for training exercises most of the day at Mountain Vista School to be prepared for wildfires. Our own OFD Firewise Board and CERTs were assisting all day.
The community visited Smokey Bear and learned about being firewise at the Firewise trailer located next to the Oracle Inn.
NEW BRUSH DUMP FEES – We will be increasing some
of our fees for the Oracle Brush Dump starting in 2015
• One Load: $3.00 • Two Loads: (truckbed plus trailer) $5.00 • Commercial-size load: (dump truck) $10.00.
Remember, items gladly accepted are: tree trimmings and brush. Items NOT accepted are: cactus, garbage, lumber, stumps, paper,
plastics, metal, fluids and site cleaning material. We are open all day, every day!
MASTICATION MACHINE – The Arizona Department of Forestry worked on a brush-thinning project along the west end of Oracle. The 3-mile long project was partially completed by hand crews using chain saws and then placed the cut materials into piles. Those piles were shredded by a mastication machine as shown in these pictures. The mastication machine will be used in places where getting the chipper close enough to the cut material is not feasible. Several upcoming projects will be completed in this same way.
Oracle’s Latest Homeowners’ Fuel Reduction Program– If you live in Oracle, own your home, live on one acre or more and are plagued by dense, fire-prone vegetation around your house, you may qualify for a new, cost-free, fuel reduction program being administered by the Oracle Fire Department and the Oracle Firewise Board.
The purpose of this grant is to create a vital buffer perimeter around Oracle that may slow the progress of any future wild fires threatening the community. The focus will be on chipping dense brush, trimming trees and selectively cutting trees in an area limited to 200 feet around the residence. Stumps, bear grass or man-made materials will not be removed.
Applications for the cost-free program are currently available at the fire dept. or by clicking HERE. Print this application and submit it to OFD. The applicant’s property will then be inspected and evaluated by a certified Oracle Firewise Assessor and submitted to a review committee for final consideration. Contact the fire dept directly or check the latest issue of the local paper for more information.
THE ORACLE EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION SYSTEM –
Click HERE to go to the "ONE CALL NOW" form. Please be
sure to get any additional numbers in the system by filling out this form and returning it to
Oracle Fire Dept.
One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire – go to: http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/ for more information!
PROPERTY EVALUATION MAPS – NEW property evaluations by members of the Fire Dept. and the Firewise board have been conducted. Final results are not posted yet, but we will inform you when they are. In the meantime, if you would like to see the present map to see how your property was doing in 2009, click HERE to go DIRECTLY to that page.