The 10 bladders installed around the Rim Country last spring are now paying huge dividends.
Water from the bladders is being used almost weekly to help control, contain and eventually extinguish a rash of fires that have started the past two weeks.
Such was the case July 21-23 when Payson Ranger District fire crews were called upon to battle 21 fires, 20 of which were lightning caused.
During the fight on the Rim Fire, which continues to burn at the base of the Mogollon Rim about 1-1/2 miles north of the La Cienega Ranch, a helicopter frequently reloaded at bladders located near Christopher Creek.
Payson Fire Prevention Officer Gary Roberts was thankful the bladders were in place and that Christopher Creek-Kohl's Ranch Fire Chief Ray Larsen was on hand to maintain and fill the bladders.
"He did a great job helping us," he said. "The interagency cooperation we receive is tremendous."
In fighting the 150-acre Rim Fire, which Roberts said would probably be fully contained by tomorrow, Wednesday, the Forest Service had to call upon an Arizona National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.
"A lot of our air resources are now up in Idaho and Montana fighting fires," Roberts said.
The Rim Fire is burning in such rugged territory it is difficult for ground crews to reach it.
There are, however, three type-2 crews and three engines assigned to the battle the blaze.
All the other fires, five on Friday, six Saturday and nine Sunday were held to less than one-quarter of an acre.
All were started by monsoon storm lightning. A Friday afternoon storm drenched the Portals subdivisions near Pine Friday afternoon turning Pine Creek Canyon Road into a Colorado River look-alike.
South of Payson in the Mesa Ranger District firefighters are battling the Gran Fire that has grown to 3,900 acres is 20 percent contained. Authorities expect to have it contained by July 30.
Jeff Whitney and his type-1 Incident Management Team took over management of the fire July 22. Although no structures have been lost, a riparian habitat is being threatened. Some forest road closures could occur in the area where the fire is burning west of the Beeline Highway.