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Crews recently thinned thickets that had regrown since the Dude Fire around Bonita Creek, now a “Firewise” community.

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Community unites in shadow of tragedy

When the Dude Fire ripped through the homes of Lorna and Bill Glaunsinger and 50 of their neighbors more than 22 years ago, the couple wasn’t sure they could rebuild. After raging 10 days, the forest fire had claimed the lives of six firefighters and left a moonscape behind. It took six years, but the couple eventually rebuilt. Today, Bonita Creek is once again a quiet community of more than four-dozen homes tucked in the woods northeast of Payson. But a remarkable thing has happened since the Dude Fire: Almost all of those homeowners have made their property “firewise.” Vegetation no longer clogs the yards and brushes up against homes. Tiny wooden green tree stakes at the foot of driveways throughout the community proudly declare: this home is firewise.

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