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Bighorn Fire through the eyes of a fire Captain

Bighorn fire through the eyes of a fire Captain
Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 05, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — June 5, 2021, marks one year since the Bighorn fire broke out in the Santa Catalina Mountains, burning nearly 120,000 acres.

Timeline: A look back at the Bighorn Fire one year later

Captain Adam Jarrold with the Golder Ranch Fire District says boots on the ground, aircraft above, and strategy all played a role in putting out the Bighorn Fire.

“It’s really tough to imagine that an entire year has gone by since the Bighorn fire ignited,” he told KGUN9 as he reflected on the firefighting efforts.

He says it was a very busy time.

“It was the most important fire in the country for a time being so the incident management team were getting all of the resources that they needed. There was over 1,000 firefighters working this fire at one point,” he added.

Not to mention the aircraft fighting the fire from above.

“Dropping the retardant or dropping the buckets of water. The hotshot crews that came from across the country to assist this fire as well as the fire engines and the water tenders,” Captain Jarrold told KGUN9.

Even though they had a lot of help, they also ran into some challenges.

“Topography was a big deal because it was so high up on the Catalina range. And of course the weather. It’s hot, it’s dry, and it gets a little windy this time of year so that was also a challenge for the firefighters,” he said.

As weeks went on, the flames grew bigger and bigger, drawing in crowds where the fire was visible.

Captain Jarrold says that made it hard for fire trucks to get to the mountain. Another problem included drones.

“Anytime there was a drone incursion we had to ground all of the firefighting aircraft. So, that really hampered the suppression activities,” he added.

Eventually their efforts paid off. The flames were put out nearly two months later on July 23, 2020

“And the post fire we’ve been trying to get the message out that fire season is year-round in Tucson and southern Arizona,” he told KGUN9.

Here’s how he says you can help them this wildfire season.

“Make sure if you're towing something and you have tow chains, make sure they’re secured properly so they’re not creating sparks. If you’re pulling off the side of the road, make sure you're not parking in tall grass, because your hot muffler, your hot exhaust system can spark a wildfire as well. Working around your home, let’s not be using anything with any source of ignition,” said Captain Jarrold.

He also says if you see something, call 911.

“We want to get people out and addressing the fire quickly when it's small to hopefully keep it from becoming a big fire like Bighorn,” he told KGUN9.