2012 archives

Photographer Kari Greer followed the fire season in the summer of 2011, capturing this portfolio of fireline and firescape images from Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming and Minnesota. 

Kari offers this reflection on her gallery of photos from Arizona’s historic Wallow Fire. She documented the fire and fire suppression activities in Arizona, which began May 29, 2011. (See AZCentral.com fora Wallow Fire progression map.)

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“The Wallow Fire was divided into at least three zones and was managed by several Type I incident management teams over it’s lifespan (Hughes’s, Pendleton’s, Pincha-Tulley’s, Reinarz’s, and Walker’s Type II). I was initially assigned to Joe Reinarz’s Team on the north zone out of Eagar-Springerville and I arrived on the evening of June 7th as the towns were evacuated. The fire also made a huge run the following day and impacted Greer and Alpine and Nutrioso. I was near Nutrioso the morning of the 8th and moved over to Greer in the afternoon and evening, escorted by Branch and Operations.

“The wildland and urban interface was a big issue and fuels treatment (ie. thinning and prescribed burning) effectiveness became very apparent afterward. The central portion of the fire was in the Big Lake recreation area and much of the timbered land was on the Apache-Sitgreaves NF, which was tinder dry and overloaded. Extensive fuels treatments have been implemented over the years under the White Mountain Stewardship, and especially aggressively on Fort Apache Tribal Lands. The treated areas fared very well and many homes were spared in Alpine, Nutrioso and Greer.

“Greer suffered most of the structure loss and it was likely because of the extreme conditions and the fuel loading to the south of town where treatments hadn’t been fully implemented yet. The fire was aligned  with the wind above Butler Canyon and it had such a head of steam that it burned as a rolling crown fire down-canyon and impinged on the southern flanks of town.

“The fire did drop from the crowns when it hit treated areas, allowing firefighters to do point protection and save homes where a safe fire defense was possible.

“The Wallow Fire was huge in scope, covering over 500,000 acres and numerous jurisdictions, and it was historic for its size and scope. It received a lot of media attention and the Chief of the Forest Service Tom Tidwell and the Director of Fire and Aviation Tom Harbour personally escorted a Congressional visit. The Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also visited while it was still burning and met with Tribal Leaders.”

 — Kari Greer