The Woodbury Fire & Reevis Mountain School
After three visits from the forest services to the Reevis farm; Peter who was in North Carolina visiting family, was notified of the seriousness of the approaching unstoppable wildfire the morning of Saturday June ,15th and flew back that day, arriving into Phoenix that night and drove straight back to the Reevis ~ 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 16th (Father’s day) and worked non-stop, along with fire crews to prepare for the fire event.
Kel and Lee Ann came up Sunday afternoon to help Peter with preparation, along with both interns (Tony & Jacqueline).
On Monday, June 17th, preparation for the fire event continued. Before daylight, the chickens were transported by small trailer to our neighbors of the J-B Ranch accommodating them in a cattle trailer (over 40 ft. long) provided by the neighbors. Sarah Bernstein and her son Alex came to Reevis to help Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, June 18th, preparation continued with clearing and disposing of tons of brush, removing any potential fuel for the fire. The 12 baby turkeys, 1 adult turkey and Vietnamese goose were transported to the neighbor's ranch also accommodated in a trailer. Reevis Mountain occupants were advised by the forest service officials to evacuate along with all vehicles; because the fire was expected to come that night or as early as 3:00 a.m .on Wednesday morning. Tony took both cats Max & Mousie to Safford to stay with friends and to care for them and to avoid exposure to smoke. Peter and Jacqueline went back up to the farm from the neighboring ranch that evening to bring down the last vehicle and were advised not to return until further notice. Four gasoline barrels, propane tanks and the dump truck had been moved to the orchard near the garden for safe keeping. Due to wind shifts, the fire was held off for another day. We set up camp Tuesday night at the neighbors ranch (6 miles down the creek), where the chickens, roosters, turkeys and goose were being cared for; leaving behind an abundant crop of apricots, peaches, blackberries and lush garden produce ready for market.
On Wednesday, June 19th, we went up to Globe for supplies. We returned after dark and were horrified/terrified to see what looked like a wall of fire coming down Campaign Canyon!!! At first we thought our neighbor’s ranch was getting burned up. As we got closer we could see the fire was further up but could not tell how far. Our neighbor Brandon had driven up to our farm to see just where the fire was and found it was 7 miles from where we were, but less than one mile from Reevis Farm. A sad sinking feeling came over us…. How could our farm ever survive such a blaze? The whole event had been an adrenaline rush while working to prepare for the fire event and witnessing the enormous bellows of smoke approaching and getting closer each day; sometimes advancing as much as three miles in one day. 'Preparing for this event was like preparing for war; with all the fear and adrenaline one may expect from facing a potent enemy.' More than all the smoke we had been seeing and breathing; returning after dark and seeing the flames was more impactful than the relentless smoke that had been burning our eyes, nose and throat. We were able to close our eyes that night knowing the fire was still 7 miles away.
On Thursday, June 20th, we drove up to Globe again taking two vehicles to do separate errands. When we tried to return to Roosevelt; we discovered the roads blocked as the town of Roosevelt had been evacuated; a shelter had been set up near Globe/Miami for residents and we were not allowed to return to the neighbor’s ranch. The smoke-filled valley and skies in Roosevelt prompted evacuation of the town. While
Peter found a comfortable patch of pavement to sleep along the roadside above most of the smoke in the valley and Jacqueline slept in her CRV for the night, both with anticipation to be able to return to the neighbors ranch in the morning. Throughout the night, enormous thick clouds of smoke could be seen in the valley below.
By Friday afternoon, June 21st, a fire official gave permission and escorted Peter down to the ranch to care for our poultry. It was at this time, we had learned that Brandan’s family had been caring for the birds in our absence. Brandon and family had refused to evacuate to take care of their ranch and the birds. The Burgett family have been the definition of kind, generous and good neighbors. Dry grass provided enough fuel to create a fire hot enough to burn green vegetation contributing to smoke-filled skies that dominated the western quarter as seen from Globe. The smoke produced by the fire is affecting more life than the flames themselves The wildfire is uncontrollable due to the dry rugged terrain, hot dry windy conditions and an abundance of fuel (dry grass, dense brush and trees) for it to burn. The forest service has been making an enormous effort to control this fire and due to their gallant efforts have kept our farm from burning down completely. From the reports received from the firemen, it seems that the house is still standing; though we have not been allowed to return to the farm to assess more fully the extent of damages. Looking to the western sky from Globe, huge billows of smoke continue. Meanwhile, Peter and Jacqueline have surrendered in Globe to recover and regain strength for the reconstruction ahead while awaiting notification as to when they may return to the farm.
It is extremely heart-warming and encouraging to hear and see the caring participation from individuals to get us through these difficult times. We are extremely thankful for all your prayers and caring that sustain us during these difficult times.
UPDATE: as of June 27th we are back staying on the farm which is not fully operational as much work needs to be done!
Smoke shadows the garden on 6/16/19
Fire crews clearing the underbrush 6/16/19
Front gate 6/26/19
Stand of Eucalyptus trees 6/26/19
The resource yard 6/26/19