Even as they were battling the largest fire in Douglas County history, firefighters were mindful of the loss of 19 of their own near Prescott, Ariz., on June 30.
“It was on everyone’s mind in some way, shape or form,” East Fork Fire Chief Tod Carlini said. “I don’t think it impacted anyone’s ability, but there was certainly an atmosphere of safety.”
Carlini said the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots were mentioned at every briefing, and on July 9, the day’s firefight was dedicated to them.
“There was certainly heightened awareness because of it,” he said. “Every safety message easily connected back to it.”
Similar conditions on the Bison fire contributed to the feeling.
“Some of the elements experienced with that event were present here,” he said. “We had similar fuel types, similar weather conditions, even some of the topography was similar. I think everyone present thought about what happened to those firefighters, and that permeated the atmosphere of this fire.”
Carlini pointed out that the fire-service community is a small one.
“There were people who worked on this fire who worked with those guys,” he said. “The fire-service community is not really that large because of how we regionally fight fires. We had people from several different states at this fire, including Arizona. The commonality is there. It’s quite easy to have that connection.”
There were four injuries on the Bison fire: two twisted knees, one twisted ankle and one instance of someone having trouble breathing.