We were put to work griding for spot fires out ahead of the main fire in the last stand of forest between the fire and the structures of a community east of town. The line I walked back and forth for hours paralleled a trail I would ride to my friend Isaac's house in that community. Fortunately that stand had burned back in the nineties and offered little for fire to get established. Our day came to a close without any direct excitement, and for once I was relieved about that. In a job where you live for excitement to relieve you of boredom, today I preferred boredom. We were allowed to go home that night and it wasn't until the stories start coming from the townspeople that you realize the urgency of the situation. Town felt like a war had broken out in the middle of it with a faceless enemy, but its people stood united together. It was the buzz everywhere you went, and still is.
As soon as the run was over we all knew the mission, control spot fires. We moved swiftly down the line and into battle past the other crew looking completely dazed. We started picking up spot fires instantly and continued the rest of the day. To complicate things the burn would have to be continued downhill torching out trees and sending more spots until the burnout was completed or else we could have been outflanked by the fire that sent the first crown run. Heavy helicopters were used to make water drops a thousand gallons at a time on the green side of our control line in hopes of mitigating any of the spot fires from getting established in the fuel beneath us on the opposite side of the ridge. Between running the burn out, holding the line, directing the helicopters, griding for spots, and a respiratory ailment that was taking its toll on our crew, we were spread thin. We called for reinforcements, realizing that we would not be able to complete the burn ourselves and hold it. Three more hotshot crews came to our aid and eventually we passed our burn off to the next and them to the next. As soon as we passed the torch the winds switched back to favorable and the burn continued until 1:30 in the morning. We would spend the next two days controlling the edge which we had burned before finally being pulled from the fire for some much needed rest. With the fire now more or less contained at 16000 acres, all the citizens of Flagstaff can do now is wait for their forest to be re-opened to go and explore and reminisce.