Update: Wildfire contained before Sierra Vista area residents had to evacuate

2014-04-26T19:24:00Z 2014-07-13T15:50:37Z Update: Wildfire contained before Sierra Vista area residents had to evacuateKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 26, 2014 7:24 pm  • 

Residents in and around Sierra Vista were warned late Saturday afternoon to prepare for evacuation if high winds force a small wildfire to jump a major thoroughfare.

However, by about 7 p.m., fire crews at Fort Huachuca Army base had contained the Aerostat Fire, said Mary Jacobs, assistant city manager for city of Sierra Vista.

The Aerostat Fire was burning in lower Gardner Canyon at Fort Huachuca. Firefighters on the ground were battling the blaze with the assistance of air support, according to a Tweet from the U.S. Army base.

Deputies from the Cochise County Sheriff’s Officer went door-to-door Saturday afternoon and evening, warning residents in the Choctaw area south of Sierra Vista to be prepared to evacuate, said Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. There are several hundred homes in the Chocktaw area.

The city of Sierra Vista utilized its reverse 911 system to call county residents to warn them of possible evacuation, Capas said.

“In the event the wind continues — because it’s nasty — were hoping it doesn’t jump Buffalo Soldier Trail, but if it does it’s going to be in the town of Sierra Vista,” Capas said late Saturday afternoon of a main road that separates the fort from the city.

The Southwest Coordination Center, which coordinates wildland firefighting resources between dispatch centers in the region, said in a Tweet at around 4 p.m. that the Aerostat Fire was only two acres, but it was exhibiting “extreme fire behavior in tall grass.”

Capas urged residents to prepare “go bags” that contain medications, cash and credit cards and personal property they could easily carry, and to make arrangements for pets and livestock so they can evacuate with a moments notice should the fire spread.

During the Monument Fire in June 2011, some residents had as little as five minutes to evacuate while others had no more than a half an hour, Capas said.

The Monument Fire burned 32,053 acres, mostly in the Huachuca Mountains, and destroyed 84 homes, businesses or other structures.

Apache Middle School, 3305 E. Fry Blvd., in Sierra Vista was being prepared to open as a reception center for the public in the event of evacuations, according to the sheriff’s office Facebook page.

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