As a chilled wind cuts through the heat in the late afternoon and that dusty smell of rain looms, monsoon season seems parked just out of reach.
And with it, the torrents of daily rain that usually mark the end of fire season. With those rains, our community exhales a collective breath we've been holding since early spring.
Though there is still fire danger on the horizon, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we seem to have made it through another year with a few scares -- the 4,000-acre Promontory Fire, the Myrtle and Scrabble fires of this past week.
We can credit the fire prevention efforts of the Forest Service and area fire departments for this year of safety. Conditions were just as bad this year, if not worse, than they were during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history, destroying over 500,000 acres.
There was no moisture. The trees were drying up like matchsticks, with tinder at their feet on the forest floor.
But what is different today from five years ago is our level of preparedness.
All winter, the Forest Service is holding prescribed burns and the forest is filled with the sound of chain saws as all the Rim Country communities work to widen and extend the firebreak. Area homeowners from Strawberry to Kohl's Ranch have worked to clear their properties.
Fire prevention is an engrained part of our community dialogue.
Travel across the country, visiting communities that are surrounded by fire danger, and you will quickly come to appreciate how far ahead we are in terms of wildfire prevention. We should be proud.
So, after all our countless editorial begging and lecturing people to be careful with fire, we would like to pause and appreciate this early monsoon feeling of relief.
And we would like to credit this safety to our firefighting community that has been forward thinking and proactive in taking the steps to keep us safe.
If a fire were to take hold, we would truly begin to appreciate the effectiveness of those measures.