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Arizona Border with Mexico Sees Rash of Fires
Southwest Region, April 1, 2011
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A Forest Service firefighter works the fire in the riparian area on the refuge.  Photo by Chris Lohrengel, 4/1/2011, San Bernardino NWR, Cochise County, AZ
A Forest Service firefighter works the fire in the riparian area on the refuge. Photo by Chris Lohrengel, 4/1/2011, San Bernardino NWR, Cochise County, AZ - Photo Credit: n/a
The fire viewed from the refuge overlook at 7 pm.  Photo by Chris Lohrengel, 4/1/2011, San Bernardino NWR, Cochise County, AZ
The fire viewed from the refuge overlook at 7 pm. Photo by Chris Lohrengel, 4/1/2011, San Bernardino NWR, Cochise County, AZ - Photo Credit: n/a

During that last part of March and the early part of April there were several fires in eastern Arizona along the International Border with Mexico.  It is likely that all the fires were human caused, whether intentional or not is yet to be determined. 

One of the fires was located at the site of the new bridge over Black Draw on the border road adjacent to the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.  Two refuge volunteers happened to be on the refuge and saw smoke coming from Black Draw at approximately 3:30 pm and proceeded to see if it was on the refuge or not.  At the same time, an off duty Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer was talking with a U.S. Forest Service fire crew that was in the area for another fire and noticed the smoke.  The refuge volunteers called Refuge law enforcement officers, as did the customs officer, and the fire crew was allowed onto the refuge to assess the situation.  Within an hour, the fire on the refuge was under control and the fire was working its way into Mexico. 

Due to the possibility of the fire turning back towards the refuge, and the threat to structures in Mexico, it was determined to be beneficial to fight the fire in Mexico.  Fire fighters entered Mexico and proceeded to light backfires to cut off the fire before it could reach back into the U.S.  By 9:00 pm, the fire was completely under control and fire fighters and law enforcement were released.  The following day USFS fire crews performed mop up duties on the refuge and then U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fire personnel visited the site to assess damage.  Thanks to the quick response of all involved, only about five acres in total was burned, with the majority of that in Mexico.


Contact Info: Christopher Lohrengel, 520-364-2104 x.106, chris_lohrengel@fws.gov



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