• Once again the Smokey Bear sign in front of the fire station has been changed from LOW to HIGH. These different classifications represent the current fire risk in and around the Oracle region of the Coronado National Forest. Changes to the sign are not made on a daily basis, such as during a high wind day, but rather take into account a fairly complicated mixture of seasonal weather and fuel conditions. As the Smokey Bear sign moves upwards from one classification to a another, the probability of ignition increases, along with the difficulty of managing a fire.
• Each year we experience an ever changing mixture of live and dead fuels. As vegetation completes it's normal life cycle, it dies and becomes a fire risk if it is not disposed of. New growth replaces the dead, and so the cycle continues.This year however, we are looking at a much higher percentage of dead fuels, primarily due to the recent hard freezes. Many fuels (trees, shrubs, grasses etc) that have survived past winters, have been heavily damaged from these freezes. As these fuels are rapidly drying out, they are more susceptible to ignition and they will contribute to a fire that has taller flame lengths and a faster rate of spread. Bottom line – a fire that is much more difficult to manage.
• Every year Oracle has lots of fires – over 50 in 2010. These fires were quickly extinguished and most people don't realize that they ever occurred. Even with all of the improvements to fire department staffing, response times, training, engines and equipment, someday a fire is likely to get the better of us. Those homes and properties that have not participated in the Oracle Firewise program will probably stand the least chances of surviving a catastrophic wildfire.
• The most important and cost effective thing that a property owner can do, is to manage lower level ladder fuels. Tall, dry grass (first step of the fuel ladder) is the number one contributor to ignition and flame spread. Grass doesn't burn very hot, and it doesn't burn very long, but if the flames reach the second step of the fuel ladder (low limbs, dry bushes, yard debris, your house, etc) the fire will grow in height and intensity. It is imperative that every home owner eliminate first step ladder fuels at least 30 feet away from any structures that they value.
• Also, be a good neighbor and don't let your excessive fuel contribute in causing damage to adjoining properties. It's been a long time since Oracle has experienced a large wildfire and many people have become just a little too complacent. Although the Oracle Firewise Brush Site is used on a daily basis, it is way too underused for our current fire risk situation.
• The Oracle Firewise Brush Disposal Site is open every day from 7 AM to 5 PM, and at $3.00 per load, it is very inexpensive to use. We would like to start seeing a line of vehicles using this important facility every day. Click HERE for more information on the Brush Disposal Site.

INFO FOR THE SUMMER SEASON – Click below for information on the special "Monsoon Awareness Week" interactive feature on Arizona Daily Star. There are also lots of links to other associated websites of interest:
Click HERE for Day 5: All about excessive Heat
Click HERE for Day 4: All about severe winds, dust storms and tornadoes
Click HERE for Day 3: All about Flash Floods
Click HERE for Day 2: All about Lightning
Click HERE for Day 1: All about Wildfires

The Florence Department of Corrections Wildland Crew (DOC) has been providing defensible/survivable space fuel thinning services in Oracle for several years now. The crew consists of approximately 20 very hard working men who are equipped with chain saws and other equipment, including a large chipper machine. Contact us for an idea of fees. Most projects are completed in one day. If you or anyone you know are interested in this program, please call the fire station (896-2980) and we'll be happy to work with you to make arrangements. Shown below are some samples of before-and-after views.

What does being
Firewise mean?


Firewise people create "defensible space"
around their homes – meaning that you have a 30-foot perimeter of space around your home that is lean, clean and green. Lean means you prune back shrubs and tree branches within 15 feet of any structures. Clean means you clean out dead plant material from around your home. Green means you have planted fire-resistant vegetation and are keeping it healthy and green.

Make sure your home is properly house-numbered for emergency access and has its entryway clear from flammable material. Most of all, have a plan in case you need to evacuate due to fire.
Before you are confronted with an emergency, have emergency plans in place. Take into consideration family health needs of specific family members who may suffer from disabilities or medical conditions.