By the morning of Friday, June 24, the Cedar Wildfire, located southwest of Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside, east of Highway 60 on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, was 42 percent contained.
Among the nearly 1,000 personnel attending to the fire, two members of the Verde Valley Fire District were hard at work, making sure the 15,000-gallon capacity helicopter had enough water to continue dousing the approximately 46,000-acre blaze.
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The wildfire started June 15. Its cause has yet to be determined.
A firefighter and fire engineer responded last week with a 3,000-gallon water tender, a massive tank with a drafting pump and a host of other equipment. Tasked mostly with keeping the tank filled, the personnel will be deployed for up to 14 days due to the size of the fire.
VVFD Chief Nazih Hazime said June 24 that the previous few days produced some moisture and that winds have shifted so that the fire “turned back on itself” a bit, allowing personnel to increase the level of containment.
“This is one operation of many that is required to fight such a fire,” Hazime said. “This is the only wildfire deployment VVFD is currently supporting, but the second deployment so far this season.”
Earlier this year, VVFD turned down a request from a fire department in New Mexico, as the district lacked enough resources to split personnel between the neighboring state and Arizona. Local fire districts and departments keep an updated list of all resources and carefully manage them.
The general consensus, according to Hazime, is that locals must be protected, first and foremost. If a big fire hits the Verde Valley or other locale, resources must be in place to minimize danger to the public and damage to property.
“There’s always a balance that needs to be maintained,” Hazime said.
According to Sedona Fire District Chief Kris Kazian, as of Friday, June 24, SFD had a type-6 engine on scene of the Cedar Fire and three personnel. In addition, they had an ambulance with a two-person crew as well as another member assigned to the management team as a facilities unit leader.