Fire contained, heading off SV evacuation

2014-04-27T00:00:00Z Fire contained, heading off SV evacuationBy Kim Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

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.

But by about 7 p.m., fire crews at Fort Huachuca had contained the Aerostat Fire, said Mary Jacobs, assistant city manager for 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 post.

Deputies from the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office 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 Choctaw area.

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

Apache Middle School, 3305 E. Fry Blvd. , 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.

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

The Southwest Coordination Center, which coordinates wildland firefighting resources among 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 could evacuate with a moment’s 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 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.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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