Payson has dodged the bullet for many years. However, our luck and charm may run out. We are in a very dry period, with the forest extremely vulnerable for a devastating fire. Having a firewall around Payson would be helpful, but our real threat is within Payson. Large tracts of undeveloped wooded areas exist in the heart of town and pose a very serious fire danger that our quite able fire department may not be capable to suppress, especially during windy weather conditions.
Many people have done an admirable job cleaning up their property, but more have done nothing to reduce the fire threat. This lack of community responsibility is truly unforgivable. Should much of Payson burn to the ground, then water and roads would be low on the priority list. With homes and businesses gone, nothing else matters.
The town needs to get on a mission soon to encourage landowners to clean up their property, and put some teeth into the request. Cutting out the manzanita (which is most flammable), as well as scrub oak and other brush, is essential, as well as removing dead wood and cutting the lower limbs of trees six feet high would come close to meeting the fire department guidelines. In case of a fire, let us give the fire department a fighting chance to suppress the fire.
Paul R. Gonnerman, Payson