BISBEE, Ariz. — A fire in Bisbee two years ago left a lingering impression on the minds of not only the fire department, but the community as well.
In Southern Arizona, we know there is no fire season -- the threat is all year long. And in the small town of Bisbee, they're always prepared for a fire.
Bisbee Fire Chief George Castillo has seen a lot of fires in his 28 years with the department. But there's one that really sticks out in his memory.
"Old Bisbee, it's a fire hazard up there," Chief Castillo said.
Bisbee Fire Chief George Castillo holds up a picture from a fire in Old Bisbee two years ago.— Natalie Tarangioli (@ntarangioli) June 10, 2019
The fire that started on Star Avenue really gave the people in this small town a scare — it looked like it had the potential to burn all of Bisbee. @kgun9 pic.twitter.com/1XtA6tLbeF
On May 15, 2017 a fire started in an abandoned home in Old Bisbee. As the flames grew, so did the concern.
"Fire actually goes uphill a lot quicker," Castillo said. "And the structures up in Old Bisbee are older, they're kind of close together. So they're possibly going from one structure to another structure. And that's why people were concerned about possibly the whole town burning that day."
There is a lot of dry brush in the area, which is fire fuel. It's part of what caused a lot of panic when the fire broke out. A lot of the damage is still visible off Star Avenue.
Castillo says the department learned a lot from that fire.
"We started looking at the dangers that we had going through that fire," he said. "What we needed to change -- and a lot of things we started up. We added more training, more equipment."
BISBEE FIRE DANGER - Two years later, the damage from a fire in Old Bisbee is still visible.— Natalie Tarangioli (@ntarangioli) June 11, 2019
At 10, hear how the fire department implemented changes after this fire, and what they’re doing to protect the historic mining town. @kgun9 pic.twitter.com/szFyc7TCnR
That fire also inspired people to form Old Bisbee Firewise, a community of volunteers who go out and clean up dry brush and overgrown trees in fire-prone areas. Castillo said around 100 people were at last month's meeting.
With a high wildfire danger looming over Southern Arizona for the next couple of months, the town of Bisbee is doing what they can to keep their historic town from burning.