The Downside of Arizona Living and Remembering the Fallen


We watch the news from around the country in wonder of the natural disasters that take place in other areas. Hurricanes up and down the Atlantic Coast. Tornados in Oklahoma, Joplin, Tuscaloosa and throughout the Midwest. Superstorm Sandy and the destruction wrought in New Jersey and the boroughs of New York City.

Heat waves? We sit in our homes and watch others struggle to make do in areas not equipped to handle triple-digit temperatures. We smile ruefully and consider we are enduring 118-degree temperatures with minimal humidity while others are trying to survive 95 and 90, pick which one is the humidity and which the temperature.

Aside from the occasional brutal summer thunderstorm (or other event that gets its own name, like the Hailstorm of 2010), there is little weather to discuss here. Yes, it gets hot. We make do. But all of the dramatic stuff from around the country? Never happens here.

Except … except for brush and forest fires.

Here in Peoria and the rest of the Phoenix area? Not so much. We’ve got mountains and homes on mountains but traffic on the mountains is so minimal that the actual fire risk, as opposed to the potential, is next to nil. I’ve lived here 37 years and can’t remember a major fire threatening homes in the metro area.

Up north in the National Forests? That’s a different story.

We remember the Rodeo-Chediski fire of 2002 for its sheer size, a monster that sent plumes of smoke into the atmosphere to where it looked from here in the Valley that monsoon thunderstorms were on their way down.

Most other names are forgotten to all but those who have either lost property or had it threatened; there are a few of these every year.

The Yarnell fire will be remembered because it reminded us all what a fickle animal flame can be. On Sunday, 19 firefighters perished when the fire roared down upon them unexpectedly, racing ahead and cutting them off from escape.

If you wish to make a donation to the families or to those still fighting this and other fires, the following is from The Arizona Republic via the Asbury Park Press ...

 Donations to the Yarnell Fire Fund can be made through United Way’s website,, or at any National Bank of Arizona branch.

The United Way of Yavapai County, working with the Prescott Fire Department and the Town of Yarnell, will distribute donations to the crew members’ families and Yarnell citizens.

The American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter is accepting monetary donations to help provide food, snacks, water and beds at two shelters at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., and Wickenburg High School in Wickenburg, Ariz.

The shelters are providing places to stay for those evacuated from their homes in wake of the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Those wishing to make a monetary donation can do so at the chapter’s website,

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