Ojo Blanco Fire Scorches 1,960 Acres
September 23, 2015
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
The Coronado National Forest Service issued a statement Aug. 26, declaring the Ojo Blanco Fire 100 percent contained after the wildfire ravaged an estimated 1,960 acres in the Santa Rita mountains southeast of Tucson.
Presumably ignited by lightning on Aug. 20, the fire burned for nearly six days, during which time engines, helicopters and firefighters actively monitored its progress, according to updates released by the U.S. Forest Service.
“The fire [burned] in steep arduous ground and lightning in the area,” the Forest Service announced late on Aug. 20, when the Ojo Blanco Fire was an estimated 80-100 acres. The Forest Service responded with plans to manage the fire “based on safety, values at risk, weather, fuels and the fire’s behavior and location.”
After considerably dying down from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22, the Ojo Blanco fire flared up once again on Aug. 23, expanding to an alarming 1,650 acres. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department was consequently forced to issue pre-evacuation notices for homes near the fire, alerting 49 out of 50 homes in the area according to the Coronado National Forest Service.
The Corona de Tucson Fire Department organized the firefighting efforts, assembling “about 110 fire personnel,” including “four hand crews, nine engines, a helicopter, and a dozer.” Together with the help of some rain and three crews from Flagstaff, they successfully suppressed the Ojo Blanco fire to a 20 percent containment level by the morning of Aug. 24, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
By Aug. 26, the containment level reached 75 percent, with the Forest Service announcing, “fire crews are finishing up with the mop up for the fire today and finding few remaining sources of heat.” Late that night, the Forest Service updated the containment level to 100% before thanking the “many agencies and firefighters who assisted in the fire suppression.”
The Ojo Blanco Fire followed a series of recent, local lightning-sparked fires, including the Finger Rock Fire that burned an approximate 750 acres only four-and-a-half miles from Catalina Foothills High School earlier in August.
Local resident Terry McNichols, whose home was burned down in the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991, has remained attentive to these local fires and even started packing his things when the Finger Rock Fire came within three miles of his home. “The thing that is so scary about fires is their unpredictability,” he states, “there is no way to prepare for them.”
CFHS student Aaliyah Ismail agrees, stating, “fires are always alarming. I think it is particularly scary that they have been happening so close to us in recent months.” However, despite her fear, Aaliyah continues to feel safe, adding, “Luckily firefighters are here to protect us from such threats.”
As the monsoon season continued, the risk of wildfire remained high due to lightning and the dry desert climate. Thankfully local firefighters worked diligently to monitor and suppress these fires.