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Just over Mingus Mountain and across State Route 69, the largest local wildfire burning this fire season caused the evacuation of the town of Mayer, a town of roughly 1,400 people that drivers pass through on State Route 69 when heading from Interstate 17 to Prescott and Prescott Valley.

The human-caused Goodwin Fire began Saturday, June 24 and burned over 4,100 acres by Monday, June 26, though the exact cause is still under investigation.


On Tuesday, June 27, the winds shifted and due to the low humidity and available fuels, the blaze swept across the bluff atop which it was burning and rushed down toward the town of Mayer, which was under a mandatory evacuation order.

At 9 that night, the fire crossed State Route 69 and began creeping up the hill on the north side of the highway.

Gov. Doug Ducey declared Yavapai County in a state of emergency on Wednesday, June 28. While one could say Verde Valley communities are lucky to have avoided a similar disaster thus far during fire season, luck has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it is mere coincidence that no such blaze has affected the Verde Valley this season. There is no magic protecting our cities — it is the diligence of residents and the swift reaction by fire agencies that have prevented the few wildfires in our area from spreading like the Goodwin Fire.

The blazes caught by local firefighting agencies have been close to easily accessible roads and resources to clamp them down before they burn out of control. If the blaze happens somewhere in a wilderness area and fire crews are not close enough to contain and extinguish that fire, a spark can turn into a full-blown conflagration in just a matter of minutes.

In 2006, the employee of a fence company ignited the La Barranca Fire after welding on a metal fence. The fire burned 836 acres and three Village of Oak Creek homes. The company’s insurance later paid the U.S. Forest Service $500,000 for the $1.2 million it cost to fight the fire.

The 4,317-acre Brins Fire that same year started at an abandoned transient camp, scorching Wilson Mountain and threatening to jump to the eastern slopes of Oak Creek Canyon.

At 21,227 acres, the 2014 Slide Fire was five times larger than Brins and while no cause was definitively determined, the start point at the edge of Slide Rock State Park and near the State Route 89A roadway on a cloudless, sunny day would seemingly suggest some human hand may have been responsible.

All it takes is one unattended or abandoned campfire, one careless cigarette butt, a spark from a bullet ricochet or someone being careless with a grill — such as the brush fire at Posse Grounds Park on June 24 — for a blaze to begin. Local forests are under Stage II fire restrictions. It is up to residents to make sure we do all what we can to prevent fires and warn visitors about fire bans and the dangers or ignoring them.

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