With a sigh and an eye roll, I feel the need to reply to the June 25th article in the Roundup (Many on-site for Backbone Fire) in part criticizing folks like me, a resident of Strawberry, who chose to stay at my property instead of flee the Backbone Fire, as ordered by the Gila County sheriff.
Why did I do it? Because I correctly anticipated the sheriff would not lift the evacuation order when the conditions necessitated it.
By June 22nd, firefighting supervisors on the ground advised me personally that any fire risk to the areas of Pine and Strawberry was “extremely low.” This included the fire line itself and any potential for blowing embers from changing wind conditions. At that time, and at best, there should have been a “ready” status for evacuation and folks should have been allowed to return to their homes. Instead, the sheriff continued the order and proceeded to shut down our little market in Pine, depriving those of us who stayed, necessary provisions. As of this writing on June 25th, the order continues, the market remains shuttered, and conditions have only improved. This smacks of local government ineptness, overreach, retaliation, and only further spreads the distrust of all forms of government like wildfire (pun intended).
The bottom line? I absolutely made the correct decision and will do it again next time. The real problem for the county is that more people have now seen what I already knew and will join me. And just how does this improve public safety when the wolf is at the door next time? With all due respect, this is how us “hazards” are created.