Sunday, afternoon, June 30, I stepped out on to my deck to watch the storm that was coming across the mountain. Only then did I realize there were fire plumes going up from the mountain top fifteen miles north of North Ranch. I turned on the TV to find the Yarnell Hill fire all over the news and that it had started on Friday. The storm I was watching created a great deal of wind and changed the direction of a fire they thought was under control. It quickly went from a mostly-contained fire to a threat to the town. It grew from a few acres to over 8,400 acres by Monday and as of Tuesday, continues to grow. It is still unconfirmed that 250 homes were burned to the ground but what was confirmed, sadly, was the loss of 19 members, ages 21 to 44, of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots crew from Prescott.
That shift in the wind caused this very experienced elite fire crew to take shelter in the individual portable aluminum foil/silica cloth shelters they each carry as a last minute temporary cover from a fire. In this case, they couldn’t escape. It is possible they didn’t have time to deploy them in full or if they did, the fire’s heat may have been too intense for them to survive. This tragedy will be studied, as all such tragedies are studied, in an effort to keep such a thing from happening again.
In the meantime, those who were evacuated are living in shelters available in both Prescott and Wickenburg. Many are finding refuge with friends or family, many not knowing if they have a home to which they may return. I know very little about what has happened within the community as the news does not give me a sense of exactly where the fire is and the road is closed; however, I know our church on the mountain is safe on the east side of Highway
Air attacks continue working the area as the weather allows. I took these photos Sunday night from North Ranch. The fire was outlining the ridge. About 10:30 that night, I went out to the same spot and could again see the fires. Since then, the fires have changed direction again.
P.S. Wednesday a.m. The fire is now 8% contained. Residents won’t be allowed back in their homes until the area has been thoroughly checked, probably sometime over the coming weekend.
Please keep the residents, the firefighters, and the families and friends of those who perished in your prayers. God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered through Amazon and most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”