Communities' Support Was Invaluable

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Editor:

The firefighters and the members of the Northern Arizona Incident Management Team wish to give our heartfelt thanks to the communities of Payson, Pine and Strawberry. It is only because of the support of the public, local agencies and area businesses in these communities that we were able to successfully perform our job of suppressing the Webber Fire.

The Webber Fire burned 4,311 acres and is fully contained.

In order to suppress the fire, we chose a strategy of using fire to fight fire. The steep, rugged and rocky terrain in the area prevented us from using a direct attack approach, which would have necessitated sending firefighters into dangerous territory. Instead, we adopted an indirect attack strategy. Burnout operations, which were conducted both by air using a helicopter and by ground using drip torches, helped to create boundaries to the fire's spread. Many of you, no doubt, saw the smoke column produced by these burnout operations. While we know large smoke columns can cause concerns among local citizens, we found you and your fellow community members very supportive of our decisions about how to best suppress this fire.

In the end, the burnout operations not only prevented the fire from spreading, but they also helped to clean up fuels in the forest that could carry future fires.

The support that we received from your communities' businesses, agencies and individual citizens was the main reason we were able to successfully accomplish our task.

We hope that we left as good of an impression with you as your communities have left with us. Thank you again for all of your support.

Van Bateman, Incident Commander, Northern Arizona Incident Management Team

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