As the Monument Fire continues to burn, Sierra Vista's volunteer community and displaced victims are coping by sharing information and support on a pair of Facebook pages.
The U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca page has transformed into something of a Monument Fire news hub, posting updates, advice and dispatches from the base's garrison commander to the nearly 13,000 users who are following the page's updates.
Tanja Linton, media-relations officer and Facebook-page administrator at Fort Huachuca, said she and the others who help run the page took on a similar role in February, when a freeze left Tucson and Sierra Vista residents without gas.
"We were really able to utilize it as a venue to get information out to people in a crisis-type situation, and we really saw success," Linton said. "Because we are an official organization, they know they're getting the facts. There's a lot of rumor and a lot of speculation out there. Folks are really nervous and anxious, and we know that we're all in the same boat. We're all in the same community here."
Even more active is "Monument fire az," a page with nearly 18,000 followers as of Monday afternoon. There are often several updates a minute, and several posts explode with comments.
Heather Wakeman, a 30-year-old Sierra Vista resident, said she uses the page to check on the status of neighborhoods with friends and family members.
"I basically use it just to find out what's going on as far as evacuations and stuff like that," she said. "I have an uncle who lives out in Hereford Road, and he's been told to evacuate for a week and hasn't left yet."
Cindy Kolb, 54, has used the Monument Fire page to help get resources to others. Kolb had to evacuate her Hereford home to stay with her mother in Sierra Vista, and she has been plugged in to the page, relaying needs she hears about. She said a request for dog food for pets at a shelter resulted in 500 pounds of food within two hours.
"We're posting what people need, and the people bring it," Kolb said.
During a phone interview Monday, her other phone rang constantly with offers of donations.
"This is amazing. It's such a miracle how all of this is happening," Kolb said. "We have such a wonderful community."
Sierra Vista businessman Steve Marben, 55, said he checks in with the page while he's at work. When he hears of contacts who need something, it helps him get them what they need.
"You can help people find the direction they need without pretending to know the information yourself," Marben said. "You can copy and paste a link from your desktop to anybody anywhere, throw in a prayer or two and give people a little peace."
• Monument fire az: www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Monument-fire-az/152424388163732
• U.S. Army Fort Huachuca: www.facebook.com/#!/u.s.armyforthuachuca
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or email@example.com