Er, is that smoke?

The third wildfire of the week erupted yesterday in Flagstaff, and boy is this a biggy! So far it has destroyed 10,000 acres and despite 400 firefighters, 8 aircraft and 5 helicopters it’s still out of control and growing. It’s a tragedy and threatens hundreds of homes, let alone devastating a beautiful landscape, so I don’t particularly want to celebrate it. Nevertheless, it just so happened that a friend and I were hiking up Humphrey’s Peak yesterday, which is Arizona’s highest point at over 12,500ft. The summit was only a few miles from the fire and from that vantage point it was particularly dramatic, so I thought I’d share a few photos.

To grasp the scale, you have to realize that those little 'hills' just in front of the smoke are full-grown mountains. All of the white is smoke - there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

The flames must have been well over a hundred feet high

Yours truly

The smoke made it look like the volcanoes had erupted again.

...or an atom bomb had been detonated

Standing on the brink of Hell?

What hope do tanker planes have against that?

Since we were at 12,000 feet and a mile above Flagstaff, how high must the smoke plume have been?

View from the top of the world

The fire is now about the same size as Flagstaff itself and growing. Good luck to the fire crews, and best wishes to those who have been evacuated.

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About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

9 Responses to Er, is that smoke?

  1. Alon says:

    Oh cool, a post! I always get a little worried. Glad to see you’re doing well.

    Those pictures really do show the terrible beauty of this world. Thanks for sharing them with us; they’re incredible.

    Hope you’re having a fun life. 🙂

  2. stevegrand says:

    Hey Alon, thanks for worrying! 🙂 Back with more posts soon, with luck. Hope all’s well with you, too.

  3. Ben Turner says:

    Wow, three in a week… we typically get one or two every few years here in Santa Barbara, but we can’t compete with that. The picture of the plane against the smoke recalls Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex; really awesome, in its original sense.

  4. Bindy says:

    Do these fires occur naturally? We don’t get this scale of fire in New Zealand. In Australia they sweep across vast distances of flat land and the smoke can cloud the sun all the way across here, but I don’t think they go so high? Many in Aus occur due to human idiocy.

    NB – I have your last fish eye of the forest as my wallpaper at the moment.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Bindy,
      Human idiocy here too, sadly. This one, like most, was apparently caused by an abandoned campfire. The humidity is only 7% at the moment and the brush is tinder-dry. People don’t seem to realize how thoroughly you need to extinguish the embers. Flagstaff is a strange environment – a cool Alpine island in a sea of desert. It looks so lush but desert air is still desert air.

      > NB – I have your last fish eye of the forest as my wallpaper at the moment.

      Ha! I’m touched. That’s only 500 pixels, so I’ll email you a hi-res one!

  5. Calos Acosta says:

    The fire and your pictures of that fire are incredible. How far is Flagstaff from the fire, and are you in any danger?

    • stevegrand says:

      Hi Carlos,
      The fire is just on the northeast edge of town. I live on the south edge, so I’m fine, thanks. Apparently I may get a lot of smoke tonight, but there’s no risk of fire where my apartment is. About a thousand homes have been evacuated and are very close to the fire, but the wind is taking it away from most of the town. The blaze is now more or less the same size as Flagstaff itself. Last Fall I posted some pictures of the beautiful Aspen trees in that area – they’re all gone now.

  6. Pingback: Dan Greenspan’s Blog » A variety of schultz fire resources

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