Tiny Alpine Arizona Under Siege as Wallow Fire Approaches

The 150,000 acre Wallow Fire burning in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona is threatening the communities of Alpine and Nutrioso. The townspeople of Eagar a little further north are on watch

With only 1,500 firefighting personnel assigned to the Wallow Fire it’s pretty much assured if the fire visits these communities there will be little left in its wake. As you can see in the GeoMac fire mapping imagery below the fire is withing reach of Alpine and Nutrioso today.

Winds today for Alpine and Nutrioso are predicted to blow from the south with gusts to 16 mph, this is not good.

Inciweb.org has a fire progression map supplied by the fire management team that shows the parabolic growth of the Wallow Fire since the start on May 29.

Wallow Fire June 4 Progression

Today will tell the story for Nutrioso and Alpine. Eagar, Greer and Spingerville are on watch. With zero containment and drought fed fuel the Wallow Fire story is in the early chapters.


Imagery from NASA

34 Comments

  • Mimhaus says:

    Does anyone have a current update on Alpine?

  • Steve says:

    HAVE TETRA-KO FIRE BLOCK GEL AVAILABLE & GEL STRIKE TENDER – CALL 503-769-8188

  • Rknrll says:

    I just want to know if my home is still there. How much of Alpine has burned? It is surrounded on three sides by fire and no one talks about what is going on there. All I hear about is Greer and Eager and now Luna N.M. is going to evacuate, but nothing specific about the fire damage or control in Alpine.

  • Rknrll says:

    I just want to know if my home is still there. How much of Alpine has burned? It is surrounded on three sides by fire and no one talks about what is going on there. All I hear about is Greer and Eager and now Luna N.M. is going to evacuate, but nothing specific about the fire damage or control in Alpine.

    • MIKE says:

      According to the Arizona Daily Star one home in Nutrioso burned. No definitive word from Alpine. Kind of stunning the PIO folks have been mute.

  • Drhikes says:

    Pointing fingers is a futile endeavor. Many think cattle grazing and un-sustainable timber harvesting are the culprits. Some truth in this, of course. I mean, there wasn’t much else folkes could do in the late 1800′s to make a living in these parts, save cattle ranching and lumber. Its the excess that wears the system out. These mountains have been visited by fire for centuries. Mostly ground fires, which ate up the grasses and scorched the bases on giant fir and ponderosas. Once cut though, the small unthinned seedlings were ripe for a different type of fire. Many of those old trees are probably beautiful beams in our homes, or homes of folkes we know. The truth is that none of us are smart enough to try and ‘re-design’ our ecosystem. We are a work in progress, in spite of our arrogance towards the natural world. The real truth of the matter is that there are just too many of us. No one wants to visit this issue, for a variety of reasons. Until we recognize that we are simply over running our life supporting resources, we will continue to blame this one and the other for our collective slide into a 3rd. world existence. After all, this is America, where anyone can grow up to be Dracula…peace…Dennis

    • Kscott Northpine says:

      You can call it pointing fingers if you want.  Facts are since forest management has went to the hands of these groups  we have lost hundreds of thousands of acres of prime land and millions of board feet of usable timber. Man is an important part of the ecosystem of this earth. That is why he is at the top of the food chain and was given the brains to manage it! Anyone with the ability to use a brain can see that when you have dry grass 18 to 24 in. deep underneath dry timber you have the perfect conditions for a fire like the wallow fire!

  • Cowgirl_4288028 says:

    I called the Forest Service in Alpine to see about helping and they told me no. I was a driver for the Miller Fire and just got done. I have parents that were evacuated from their home in Alpine. I woul like to help but they won’t let me.

    • Harriss says:

      What do you know about what has burned in Alpine?  Read that hot spots were down near Luna Lake but have heard nothing about the town.  We use to live there many many years ago. Thanks

    • Mtnj07758 says:

       there   are   fire  crews   in   arizona   that  still  have  not been  called   yet,  the   feds   are going  to wait  till  its  out of control, 

  • Harriss says:

    This is Sunday afternoon and I have no updates on Alpine. Some of the dearest people I know live there!  Would someone please give me an update!!! Thank you in advance. Sharon 6-5-11

  • Outdoorsydad says:

    how many acres has it reached today?

    • Admin says:

      Everybody know this: Alpine is destroyed, completely destroyed. Their are no structures left, A nuclear bomb wouldn’t do a quarter of the damage that this fire is doing, If you could fly to the middle of this fire with a helicopter all you would see all the way to the horizon in every direction would be flames and smoke black and devastation. They are not giving you updates cause they dont want you trying to go there. Our town is lost! We can only hope Escudilla mountain is spared. Why have you forsaken us!!!???!?!?

      • Maggie says:

        Admin, Can you please tell us what your source is for this information?  I have friends who are parttime Alpine residents, but I don’t want to pass on this terrible news if it’s not completely accurate. Many thanks. 6.6.11, 10 a.m.

        • MIKE says:

          There is no corroboration of such damage in Alpine. At the very least the fire management team should brief people on damage in Alpine and Nutrioso.

          • Yoda says:

            Talk about mis management,  who was the BOZO that lifted the fire restrictions so the warm and fuzzy campers felt it was ok to build a camp fire in 40mph winds?

      • Maggie says:

        Well, Admin, I just talked with my Alpine friend. Their neighbor, who evacuated but is close by and in contact with fire command, just spoke with them in the last hour.  The town of Alpine is still fine as of this mid-morning; he has a visual.  Please do not post such blatantly inaccurate information and get people worked up – it’s a disservice, both rude and mean-spirited, to the wonderful people of Alpine and surrounding communities that are hoping and praying they have something to return to when this fire is finally controlled.  If you have accurate info, by all means share it – otherwise, shut it.  6.6.11, 10:30 a.m.

        • MIKE says:

          Thank you Maggie!
          Mike- FirefighterBlog.

        • Saphireblue says:

          thanks maggie we need to be very hopeful and faithful at this most trying time ,we don’t need to hear  comments that are so harsh and rude to the people of these community’s.i pray for this fire to be contained very soon shame on you admin.i what my mother to have a home in eager to return to.godbless the fire crews and forrest service for there hard work in these community’s.thanks saphireblue 

  • Antoni says:

    L live in Nutrioso – quit bitching and get out there and fight the fire if you are that concerned. Another case of the couch potato taking shots instead of responsibility.

    • 48wayne says:

      Antoni, sorry it wshould have been fought last week when it was controllable. I do hope you’re aware not everyone is allowed in are to fight don’t you, just checking.

  • Kscott Northpine says:

    its the rodeo-chediski fire all over again! Poor management on the Forest Services part, zero logging and zero grazing on forested lands lead to perfect conditions for the wallow fire to turn the entire White Mountains  BLACK!!!!   When are the people of this country going to stop catering to the enviromental groups and do what is right to maintain a healthy forest? Instead of managing the forests the proper way to prevent this from happening the Forest  Service has spent the last few years cutting fuel breaks around the timbered towns in the White Mountains to prepare for the inevitable!!!   There should be legal action and they should be held ACCOUNTABLE!!!!!!!!  I grew up in Alpine and cant believe all that is gone. 

    • T-REX says:

      You are right on with your comments Kscott Northpine. i also live close by alpine and between no logging and worthless mexican grey wolves we as hunters, campers, fisherman, and just hard working people that enjoy to visit Alpine and the White Mts. this is what is left for us to visit now. A burnt down forest thanks to the tree hugers, and animal rights activests that dont give two shits about Alpine and all the beautiful surrounding towns. the area this fire is burning and has burnt is some of the most beautiful land in Az. The ASSHOLE TREE HUGGERS and ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVESTS against logging, hunting, and quite simply just americans that love our forest, should without a dought be tried and convicted. Maybe some public hangings would wake these people up. At the very least these dumbass democrats that dont understand or give a shit how hard working americans enjoy their weekends should be out on the front line with a shovel helping put out this horrible fire!

      • Saphireblue says:

        “this was a result of a very careless person or persons democrat or not this was a very!!!! careless and stupid action that may leave my mother and many others without there homes. to return to in eagar.this fire is moving very fast and has me very worried.may god bless the fire crews and all forest service staff may god keep you safe!!!!!

  • MIKE says:

    I’ve passed judgement on the Forest Service off and on since I began fighting wildfires in 1982 and since I started this blog in 2004.  It’s not about the firefighters, never has been, it’s about the firefighting philosophy of the Forest Service. I was CDF (Cal Fire) trained and they fight fire directly when possible. 
    This particular fire would be impossible for any agency to fight directly but with a mere 1,300 firefighting personnel assigned they are absolutely undermanned now. Fire management for Rodeo-Chedeski called for California aide when the fire was around 40k acres.
    1,300 firefighters means 750 are sleeping, off duty leaving 750 to man a fireline 25 miles by 25 miles. Not enough when you consider structure protection for up to 5 communities, containment dozer lines. 
    There should be 5,000 firefighters on the lines here. upstream communities should have structure protection crews already in place. I’m not sensing much urgency here. In fairness I don’t know the ground there. In my years in AZ I never visited Alpine or Eagar.

  • MIKE says:

    Looks like they went to managing instead of fighting this right from the start. Mistake.

    • Sj145sunny says:

      Until you’ve been on the frontlines of a fire in 40 mph winds in a dense pine forest that has been experiencing drought conditions for 23 consecutive years, don’t pass judgement. These hills range from 6,700 feet to 10,000 feet, with malapai rock, steep outcroppings, and dense underbrush that hasn’t been logged for a decade. Special interest groups have blocked forest management efforts since before the Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002. It is next to impossible to fight this fire, given the terrain, the weather conditions, and the lack of man power. We can’t put our firefighters’ lives in danger by sticking them in front of this fire.

      • Kscott Northpine says:

        I agree with you to a point, with winds that high and conditions as they are ground crews would be useless, and their lives at risk. How many dozers did they put out in front of fire trying to cut fuel breaks? The word i got was none! This was three days after fire started.  Why? I know that area very well, there are several big wide gravel roads the fire crossed that make great fire lines. With a little help from dozers and pumper trucks for spot fires there is a good chance of gaining a hold on things, or at least slowing it down to a workable speed. The Forest Service idea of fighting a fire is from a distance in a control center. Hasnt worked yet and never will.

    • Lavender8880 says:

      Right you are!!!

    • 48wayne says:

      Mike you are correct. There are real problems here. Regina the wind was not constantly 40 mph plus from the time the fire started. When it was first seen it was 10-20 acres and there was forest service tanker truck within miles watching. If there was desire aircraft could have been used, I’m a pilot I know better, are you PR for forest service or what? They have let arizona residents down. Then when we look at their lack of management over the last 10 years we’re not impressed. Get the environmentalists and EPA out of our forests. We can’t afford their incompetence.

      • MIKE says:

        48Wayne, I believe they are still litigating the response to the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest in 2009. Slow Fed response led to mass devastation, firefighter deaths and parts of communities laid waste to. If tankers had been ordered when asked for early they might have hooked it at a few hundred acres.

  • 48wayne says:

    Why when the fire started a few hundred acres were fire bombers NOT used to control and possibly put out? Were they NOT available, I can’t understand, who is in charge and making decisions? To me looks like totally incompetent government again

    • Regina says:

      Winds were blowing at 40mph+ when this fire started, and most days since then. Until you are on the incident management team, how about praying for help and decent weather instead of criticizing. They are doing the best they can with what they have. No, bombers were NOT available, and would have been useless in the winds.

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  • Comments
    bigsurkate
    Just Released – Yarnell Hill Serious Accident Investigation Report
    Thanks for pulling this all together in one place. I have seen this compared to the Esperanza Fire where communication was a problem, also. Such a sad loss for the fire fighting community.
    2013-09-29 20:35:00
    FireBlogger
    Rim Fire Crosses The 100k Acre Mark
    This fire is a freak. It's devastating the forest in some spots. I saw one image of a couple hundred acre patch with nothing left, not even stumps! This is not healthy burning.
    2013-08-24 06:42:00
    Ex local firefighter
    Rim Fire Crosses The 100k Acre Mark
    When all is said and done, there are groups that go up Cherry Oil Road and put in on the Clavey River. They stop in the area of the fires point of origin for lunch. Rafting operations are probably the only ones that can access this area and time will tell if the environmentalists have…
    2013-08-23 18:50:00
    FireBlogger
    Sierra's Aspen Fire Pushes Into The Kaiser Wilderness
    I believe you are referring to the Rim Fire 40 miles north of the Aspen burn. It's a monster. I really thought the Aspen Fire had the same potential. Thank goodness it did not burn like the Rim.
    2013-08-23 06:20:00
    Jenefir Robert
    Sierra's Aspen Fire Pushes Into The Kaiser Wilderness
    Such a massive natural disaster. When the things would be under control?
    2013-08-23 06:16:00

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