Print Firefighters battle blaze threatening Clarkdale
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Monday, 20 June 2011 09:05

A wildland firefighter shovels dirt onto a still-flaming section of a fire on the Clarkdale section of the Yavapai-Apache Nation at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. The fire started an hour earlier in a brush filled area near homes on Russell Street and the cause is under investigation.

On Sunday, June 19, Clarkdale firefighters responded to a call of a wildfire on the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

They quickly mobilized additional resources due to high winds which were pushing the fire down a wash area along the railroad tracks of the Verde Canyon Railroad, according to Robert Church, assistant public information officer for VVFD.

Witnesses reported seeing several juveniles playing in the area then running away almost immediately as the fire broke out.

Capt. Brandon Nargessi, with the Clarkdale Fire District, and incident commander of a wildfire on the Yavapai-Apache Reservation, walks along the tracks checking on the progress of the fire crews. Fire personnel from the Cottonwood and Jerome Fire Departments, as well as the Verde Valley Fire District, Verde Valley Ambulance and the U.S. Forest Service, responded to assist with the fire which broke out Sunday afternoon.Fire personnel from the Verde Valley Fire District, the Cottonwood and Jerome fire departments, Verde Valley Ambulance as well as the U.S. Forest Service responded and quickly assisted the Clarkdale fire personnel in bringing the fire under control. They successfully prevented what could have been a disastrous situation from getting out of control, according to Church.

Prior to the fire on the Clarkdale reservation, a USFS officer had been out issuing citations to people who were still lighting campfires on the national forests, according to Forest Service personnel on scene.

While most of the attention in the news lately has been directed at the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, the Wallow fire burning in eastern Arizona, this past weekend fire crews around the Verde Valley stayed busy answering calls and putting out wildfires all of which appear to be human caused and therefore preventable.

Fire crews from the Verde Valley Fire District also responded to a brush fire in the Verde Villages on Saturday, which appeared to have been started by several juveniles playing with matches. Early Sunday morning crews responded to a small grass fire along State Route 89A, most likely started by a motorist who carelessly threw a burning cigarette out the window.

Firefighters from various agencies around the Verde Valley, work to contain a wildfire on the Yavapai-Apache Reservation in Clarkdale on Sunday June 19, 2011. The fire broke out around 2:45 in the afternoon.To prevent a fire, homeowners should first create a safety zone around their homes. Keep lawns trimmed, remove weeds and dead tree limbs as well as any other combustible materials.

Plant low flammability shrubs and trees in the safety zone to decrease the likelihood of fire spreading to your house or other buildings.

Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from structures. Keep a ready supply of tools on hand such as shovels or rakes. In addition have a usable water source in case a wildfire threatens the home. Families should also develop a plan for leaving in case they have to evacuate.

In the case of the fire on the Clarkdale reservation, one homeowner turned on a sprinkler system, wetting down the grass and trees in their yard in an effort to prevent the fire from spreading inside their safety zone.

With four out of five wildfires being caused by humans, the biggest safety measure is ensuring that fires are never started in the first place. This means no burning or open flames on “No Burn” days or using an ashtray to dispose of cigarette butts. Parents must make sure that matches, lighters and other flame sources are put up and out of the way so that children cannot play with them.

Isaiah Munoz, 14, right, helps to drag water hose through his grandmother's back yard on Russell Street in the Clarkdale portion of the Yavapai-Apache Nation on Sunday, June 19. Munoz said he saw the fire in a wooded gully behind his grandmother, Evelyn Turner's home and watched as it moved into the yard and started burning a wood pile along the fence. Munoz and several of his uncles used garden hoses until firefighters arrived. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As was the case with two fires this weekend, children playing with matches are believed to have been the cause. Parents should talk with children about the dangers of fire.

For more information and wildfire safety tips go to the Firewise Communities website at