Christopher Creek has seen a bad week of smoke and ash from the growing menace of the Bush Fire. From late morning and well through the night the smoke pouring through the canyons. It burns your eyes and raws your throat. The sun turns from yellow to orange and changes the color of the landscape. The Rim and mountains become silhouettes in the gray sky.
Travel became a concern as weekenders were returning to the Valley. Some delayed their journey until Monday. By then their choices were limited. Most returned through Camp Verde and one couple got home by way of Young and over the Sierra Anchas. Trip times were from three to four hours or in one case nearly five hours.
Smoke and ash were heavy in the Creek in the very early hours when we were put on standby to evacuate 30 years ago during the Dude Fire. Candy Hart and her friend had horses to move to safety. At the time, Heber White’s daughters, Deanna and Cookie, lived down in Rye. Deanna remembers getting a call from Candy after midnight. She contacted Cookie and they hitched the horse trailer to a borrowed pickup with a camper. They loaded four kids in the back. Picked up Deke and headed out. At the roadblock, they explained their mission to evacuate livestock and were allowed through. In the Creek, Cookie went to her dad’s house to pack. Deanna parked on the highway and helped Candy lead two horses to the trailer. Deanna remembers the horses being spooky and that there were too many “cowboys” trying to help.
With much difficulty they got the first one loaded. Candy was in the trailer when her horse reared, hit his head and lurched to the side hitting Candy in the head. The second horse would not load. Retrieving saddles and harness, they readied to ride the pair out to Lazy Y-Bar ranch at 3 a.m. Deke followed in Candy’s truck.
Skies were just turning gray when they returned. With daylight coming, some returned to their homes, nerves frazzled and tired. Others remained, most having no sleep.
Mid-morning, Clayton came looking for help to go load Ellie’s piano. Heber stopped by with his loader to move a huge pile of firewood so the owner could move a travel trailer.
Some folks by then were leaving and left word as to where they were headed. Calls from the Valley inquired as to our status and would someone please go to their cabin and pick up such and such.
During the fire, there were many who stepped up. Red’s station remained open around the clock and fire department volunteers along with Chief Dale Ashby had assignments. We will tell of their stories next week.
Another fire perimeter map was delivered mid-morning, giving us an idea of how quickly the fire was moving toward us. During the day, what news of the fire came primarily from the scanners and radios at Red’s station or from Jo’s Market. By afternoon the smoke was heavy once more. Come evening there was again a large gathering, this time at John and Olive’s Creekside Restaurant. By dark of day four, you could see the red glow of the fire behind the silhouette of Promontory Point.
The good news was that though we were still on notice, we were still here.
Now we must announce the cancellation of the Christopher Creek Homeowners annual community picnic scheduled for June 27. President John Turtchin said that a meeting would be scheduled for September. The Firebelles’ Community Garage Sale will be held as scheduled starting at 8 a.m., Saturday, June 27. Your choice of doughnuts and coffee or hot dogs and chips will be served. Sheila Marcum reminds us there are just 100 tickets left for the 2020 XL Ranger. There will also be a bake sale table at the mailboxes at 8 a.m. the morning of the July 4th Parade.
Our thoughts are with our firefighters down in Tucson and with the folks in the Tonto Basin area ... and that’s another week in the Creek.