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Yarnell Still On the Alert, But Grateful (VIDEO, Photos) Featured

The community of Yarnell has much to be grateful for, and much to be proud of. 

As the firefighters walked out of the Community Meeting in Yarnell, the two hundred or more residents in attendance broke into loud applause and stood in honor of those that protected their town from the Tenderfoot Fire. The firefighters looked a little surprised - they rarely get such a response from community members. 

But this town has all-too-recent memories of the Yarnell Hill Fire, which left 19 hotshot firefighters dead and more than a hundred homes destroyed. They still have a tribute set up to the hotshots, and are in the midst of building a park called the Yarnell Hill Memorial Park.  

So, during this wildfire, the community of Yarnell left quickly when evacuated, and showed patience in waiting to return to their homes. Homes that, in some cases, were only inches away from the flames. A lot to be thankful for. 

This time around, the town water system survived with very little damage. Last time the damage cost millions of dollars to repair. More to be thankful for. 


And, most importantly of all, there have been no reportable injuries from the Tenderfoot Fire. So very, very much to be thankful for. 

A large part of the credit goes to Fire Chief Ben Palm. After the Yarnell Hill Fire, former Fire Chief Jim Koile resigned amidst accusations that he hadn’t adequately prepared for a potential wildfire. Assistant Chief Palm was named as the new Fire Chief a couple of weeks later.  Then he came up with a plan and pursued grants to build firebreaks around the town to protect it from another tragedy. 

Gerry Perry is the Public Information Officer for the Incident Command Team fighting the Tenderfoot Fire. He pointed out that the firebreaks ceated by the community were absolutely key in aiding the firefighting efforts. “Hats off to the community and hats off to Chief Palm,” Perry stated. 

According to Incident Commander Alan Sinclair, “The fire is not moving, but since we don’t have cloud cover, and we’ve got the solar heating with the direct sunlight, the hot areas are starting to show themselves. So, our operational folks decided we’re going to stay a little bit longer and check those lines really good with the crews that we have, and we’re going to ensure that those lines are secure before the team leaves.”

“A lot of the spots are interior, there are a few along the line… Once the forward spread was stopped, we felt comfortable with getting people in, came up with a good plan to make sure we could get them in there safely, now they’re ground proofing those lines making sure that they’re safe.”

“We’re not using the slurry or retardant drops because those helicopter water drops are being directed by crews on the ground. So, the crews on the ground are finding the hotspots, and they’re telling the helicopters, ‘Hey, we’ve got some heat over here, I want you to drop the water right here.’ So, they’re directing the water to where they need it now.”

“We’re going to be here for at least a few more days,” Sinclair said. “We’re hopeful that nothing gets out of the containment lines. But, we’re checking those lines, and there’s still heat along the lines. Any one of those spots could start to move, and then we’d be back in a firefight. So, depending on the lines holding, and how much heat they find out there, that’s going to determine how long we’re here.”

The report on Inciweb explained, "This morning fire fighters were ferried by assigned helicopters to the fire perimeter on the southeastern flank of the fire. Their assignment was to deal with hot spots that had the potential to become active enough to threaten the perimeter. Aided by helicopter water drops, these crews have spent the day working in very rough country to improve and hold fire lines on the leading edge of the fire. Other crews hiked into other sections of fire line this morning and are patrolling and reinforcing those established lines. They are also mopping up any heat within 20 yards of the perimeter to ensure fire movement cannot reoccur."

In the meantime, Sinclair said, “It’s really nice to know that the people are understanding, I worry when we have people displaced that they don’t understand why, but they obviously understood that it was in their best interest and that we had their safety in mind when we made that decision. I appreciate it.”


Crews will continue to patrol, monitor and address threats to fire lines. They will also begin to rehabilitate the fire lines, “…generally return as much of fire line construction activity to pre-fire conditions as possible.”

Some of the crews will be released back to their home stations. 

Traffic controls will continue to be in effect, a 25 MPH speed limit will be strictly enforced. Motorists are also asked to slow down in Peeple’s Valley. 

Assigned Resources:

5 Hot shot crews

1 Type 2 initial attack crew

21 Engines

2 light, 3 heavy helicopters

2 bulldozers

2 water tenders 

Total personnel: 320

Size: 4,087 acres

Percent of Perimeter Contained: 61%

Estimated Containment Date: Friday, July 15, 2016 





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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 06:50
Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder and Editor of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She asks a lot of questions! In her spare time, she loves photography, cooking and hanging out with her family.

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