Photo credit Michael Chow/The Republic
The Wildfire Crisis
Arizona is struggling with three extremely serious wildfires. The Bighorn fire is nearly out, but it was the 8th largest in the state’s history. This fire impacting the Santa Catalina Mountains is in the southern part of the state, near Tuscon. It burned for nearly a month and impacted almost 187 square miles. Residents of Phoenix are dealing with the Bush fire in the Tonto national forest, which is 30 miles from Phoenix. Although this fire is apparently out, it burned nearly 200,000 acres. It ranks as the 5th largest fire in the state’s history. The third big fire is the Mangum fire burning in the Kaibab national forest, which now covers over 71,000 acres and is 88% contained as of July 6th. A 4th fire, the Polles fire, started on July 3rd due to lightning. It is an active fire with little containment as of this writing.
Scientists believe the uptick in fires is related to climate change. Indeed, Arizona is experiencing extreme heat and drought. Very little rain has fallen, even though mid-June marks the beginning of the official monsoon season.
Recently, a fire in Aquila forced evacuations of residents and livestock. Residents evacuating with livestock such as horses were directed to the Cave Creek Memorial Arena Rodeo Ground. This reminds me of the tragedies of the California wildfires. At one point, a fairground facility housed over 800 horses. Rescuers were unable to reunite many of them with their original owners. Sadly, most horses had no identifying information available.
Horses turned loose should have identification
In my opinion, this is one practical use of ID MyHorse Emergency Identification Tags. I’d rather not be painting my phone number on a prancing horse’s hooves as a fire roars ever closer. Hurricanes and wildfires create scenarios where owners may need to turn their horses loose. If you are facing a situation like that, consider having readily available information on your horse in advance of the disaster!
In addition to the stresses imposed by wildfires, Arizonians are dealing with an increase in COVID-19 cases. Recently, the state health department announced a triage plan in the face of rising hospitalizations. This plan would potentially limit services for older patients. This would especially apply if the individual had other medical conditions. One of my friends sent me a notification about this. She and her husband were rethinking their plans to spend time in Arizona.
Studies in other countries have linked exposure to poor air quality as a factor in increasing the risk of death due to COVID-19. Certainly, it is easy to grasp that breathing hot, particulate-filled air from a wildfire would challenge a respiratory system already struggling with the virus.
Currently, Arizona is one of the worst hotspots for COVID cases. This past week, Arizona announced nearly 4900 new cases in a single day and 88 deaths. The Governor is reinstating stricter regulations, although apparently some establishments, such as gyms, are pushing back.
Arizona is not the only state back peddling. My previous residence, Kansas, is also reverting to earlier phases of control. Mandatory mask-wearing it becoming the norm in many places.
Will this impact the exodus to Arizona?
Will wildfires and COVID-19 impact your winter plans? I have recently seen several new threads on various online horse groups, inquiring about good places to land in Arizona. I have written two blogs describing some options for winter residence in Arizona. (Arizona Snowbird Options and Arizona Snowbird Options Part Two.) I am not certain how the wildfires and the virus issues will impact our plans. I reached out to the owners of the facility where we are headed this winter. Apparently, the COVID problem is, as one might expect, much worse in the big cities. Additionally, the wildfires have not impacted our hosts, even though they are about an hour from Phoenix. That was music to my ears!
July 4th Parade
Alan and I have thoroughly enjoyed having some of my children join us for the July 4th holiday. Our mountain community normally has a large parade followed by a pitch-in dinner. The official parade was canceled due to COVID, but some die-hard mountain residents decided it should happen anyway! Therefore, an impromptu parade wound its way through the community.
Alan and I rode our horses. Kadeen, my gray Arabian, has had this experience in the past. We had no idea if Sadie was up to the challenge. Both horses did great. Although the fire department indicated the pace would be 5 mph, there is no way it was that slow. We hustled! I was incredibly sore the next day, in just about every muscle in my body. My children, grandchildren, and dogs rode in the white Ford truck behind us. My son asked me just what cue did I give Kadeen to get that “all four feet off the ground” gait that he was doing?
We are halfway through 2020 and it has been a very challenging year, has it not? Everyone has been impacted in so many ways by this virus. I hope you are staying healthy and able to enjoy the things you love.