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Q: Now that the Rodeo-Chediski Fire appears to be under control, was there ever a time when it looked like it could move into the Payson area?

A: Not really, according to volunteer information specialist Tim Grier. Because of the normal flow of wind out of the west and southwest, fires traditionally travel to the northeast.

"I was talking to Judge Ronnie McDaniel the other day," Grier said. "He told me, 'I've been here for 60 years and I've never seen the wind shift in (the opposite) direction.' That's pretty good testimony to me. I'll listen to the judge."

Grier said there was some concern that the Rodeo-Chediski Fire might "catch" Canyon Creek Canyon just south of Forest Lakes and get up into the Rim area that way. But even if it had, it would have been stopped by, of all things, the Dude Fire.

"You have to remember that we have the Dude Fire which has balded a big section of the Rim and would make an excellent fire break," Grier said.

Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb agreed, explaining that fires burn up and out up toward the front and outward on the flanks.

"So it widens a little bit," he said. "The back of a fire will back into the wind if it has fuel behind it, but ever so slowly."

So the fire was, in fact, "backing" toward Payson, but only at the rate of about 100 feet a day a pace that would have taken it over three years to reach us.

Q: One would think the huge, nearby Rodeo-Chediski Fire would have gotten the attention of residents and local government, yet I see many yards, vacant lots, and greenbelts full of underbrush and the lightning season is just beginning. What is the town government doing to assure Payson doesn't go up in flames?

A: Interim Town Manager Kelly Udall says the town has been working on that problem for a couple of years.

"(Payson Fire Chief) John Ross received a wildland interface grant for that purpose," Udall said.

As part of that grant, crews are doing priority assessments of properties in high-risk areas.

"The grant will cover either contracting with somebody or having our crews go in there and get that brush out on a priority basis," Udall said. "We have been encouraging residents to clean up their lots now, and we're trying to work with Gila County to afford them the opportunity to dump their brush piles out at the landfill, because right now our brush pit is getting pretty full."

Although the Rodeo-Chediski Fire has "heightened everybody's sensitivities," the reality, Udall says, is that we're looking at a 10-year project.

Call 474-5251, ext. 147, to reach Roundup's What's Up? line. Leave your question on the answering machine and we'll try to find the answer.

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