Pumpkin Fire

2000 Pumpkin Fire, late afternoon burn out operation.

Sheppard: The Pumpkin Fire was a lightning caused fire, and it was in the wilderness on both the Coconino and Kaibab Forests. We were faced with the challenge of aggressively fighting this fire ... but the conditions were so extreme that year with the drought and temperatures so high and the windy conditions that we couldn't stop the fire.

2000 Pumpkin Fire. Photo taken from safety zone at Boy Scout Ranch.

We watched 300-plus foot flame lengths be thrown off that fire, and it was burning down-slope, which was a different phenomenon with wildland fires that like to race uphill. In this case it was coming down a slope, and it was a very impressive sight, a very powerful force was coming down the northeast slopes ??? Kendrick Mountain.

Hochderffer Fire Scar

Site of the 1996 Hochderffer Fire, Coconino National Forest, Ariz.

A lightning strike sparked a fire near Flagstaff [June 20, 1996], and within hours the blaze was out of control. "From our front porch, it looks like Dante's Inferno. It was terrifying," says Bob Miller, an attorney who lives near the San Francisco Peaks on the northwestern outskirts of town. "We were in a total panic."

The Hochderffer Hills fire swept through 16,400 acres of Ponderosa pines before it was controlled nearly two weeks later. Although no one lives or homes were lost, everyone knew it had been a close calls. "Flagstaff has [had] dodged the bullet many, many times," says Paul Summerfelt of the city's fire department. It's no longer a question of it. It's a question of when."

High Country News, March 1, 1999 (v. 31, no. 4)

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