Rim Country Drivers Pass First Test Of Winter

Winter dumped the first significant snow of the season atop the Mogollon Rim Saturday, followed by a heavier load on Monday.

Winter dumped the first significant snow of the season atop the Mogollon Rim Saturday, followed by a heavier load on Monday. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Rim Country drivers passed their first test of the winter weather season, creeping through the weekend storm safely.

Police reported only a handful of wrecks and slide-offs over the weekend, with the few accidents causing only minor injuries.

Despite several inches of snow in Pine and 1.5 inches of rain in Payson, emergency crews were left mostly twiddling their thumbs.

Early Monday morning, Hellsgate firefighters responded to Plant Fair Nursery, where a tree limb loaded with snow snapped and fell into a power line. The limb caught fire, but eventually snubbed itself off.

No damage was done to the power pole and service was not interrupted, said Chief Gary Hatch.

When winter storms hit the Rim Country, emergency departments beef up their staffing levels. In Star Valley, Hellsgate volunteers are always willing to put in extra hours despite only making $1 an hour.

On Monday, Hellsgate had a four-man crew, with two of those volunteers.

Hatch said it is normal for volunteers to come in and stay all day just because they want to help protect their community, Hatch said.

In Pine-Strawberry, the only major incident occurred Monday morning, when two cars slid into each other head-on.

About 5:50 a.m., the vehicles hit just south of Clints Well on Highway 87, near milepost 285.

An ambulance transported one person to Payson Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. Crews had the wreck cleared by 9:30 a.m.

P-S Fire Chief David Staub said there were no other issues.

Arizona Department of Public Safety echoed Staub, saying the roadways stayed mostly clear.

“A few wrecks happened over Sunday and this morning (Monday), but nothing too serious,” said DPS public information officer Carrick R. Cook.

A National Weather Service metrologist in Flagstaff said the cold front that brought the storm into Gila County this weekend has now passed on into Navajo County.

Behind that front, another system brought more rain to the area Monday night.

The weather service says the area should have “very nice” weather for the week, with the next rainfall Friday or Saturday.

Roundup reporter Max Foster, who lives in Pine, decided to stay home much of Monday after slick roads made exiting Pine dangerous.

Foster said he watched one truck slip and slide down the road past his home at the base of the Mogollon Rim and decided to stay put.

That gave him more time to remove the 25-foot high mulberry tree that fell down on his back porch from the weight of the snow.

Foster, who planted the tree 21 years ago, said losing the tree is like losing a family member. Luckily, the tree didn’t do too much damage to his home.

The storm had little affect on APS power poles, and power service remained mostly on for residents.

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