Friday, June 05, 2020

The Bizarre & Twisted Path of The Ocotillo Fire

June 5, 2020
   We're still going through all the wreckage of the Ocotillo Fire path today. Went out early and caught this blazing (sorry, couldn't resist) sunrise.

   Ratcliff Ridge Burned & Battered

  The big, white spot is the ash from a burned bush or tree and you can see other white spots in the middle distance. I assume this is because the fire is burning white hot and turns everything to ash?

   I hiked up and took a closer look at those magnificent, ancient saguaros on the ridge line (250-500 years old?) and some of them have been badly burned. I wonder if they will start collapsing in the next few days and weeks. Hope not.

   The fire took so many unpredictable turns, probably based on the shifting winds which, according to the fire battalion chief below, were quite fickle, turning on a dime and going in a completely new direction. Of course it didn't help that the fire creates it's own wind drafts and shifts the flames around. Still, it is stunning to see when the fire adhered to a property line, like this:

A Weed Wacked Property Line Adhered to!

   This is my friend Bev's property up the road from us, and she has had professional and family members weed wacking her entire property for the last couple months. It paid off. That's her property on the left of the burn line and that is her neighbor's property, blackened on the right. 

   The fire jumped numerous roads on it's path to the north of us, but it stopped dead at Rockaway Hills and veered off to the right where it took out a house on Cavaha Ranch before heading up that canyon towards the northeast.

Joe Yager's entrance fence survived the flames!

   Joe built this low wooden fence and entry way sign and not only did the fire jump the road and burn dozens of acres to the left of this makeshift barrier, but it left the fence and the weeds to the right! Unbelievable.

   These two gents paid me a visit yesterday.

    Dennis Rohrman, Battalion Chief and North Maricopa County Fire Chief John Kraetz

   John and I go back. Our kids went to school together growing up in Cave Creek. Dennis called in 100 pieces of equipment to fight the fire and he told me this fire was a career benchmark for many of the firefighters.

"They got one thing in common, they got the fire down below."
—Bob Seger, "Fire Down Below"


  1. When the Ocotillo fire got larger, I realized that is where your dream house was located. Wondering how you were doing, I remembered your blog, so that is where I headed. So glad to hear your house was spared, even though it got awful close. So sorry to hear of Kathy's close call, but thankfully she mad it out. I wish her a speedy recovery. Burns are nasty.

  2. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Our community cannot let this happen again. Two major wildfires in Cave Creek in less than a month and no plan to stop the next one - Residents fleeing their homes, houses burned down, wildlife burned to death and homeless and pristine desert destroyed. (East Desert Fire & Ocotillo Fire) John H. from FaceBook - Cave Creek the Town to Tough to Govern

  3. I endured the back to back fires and made it out alive. I left CaveCreek for good now...never going back. I have ptsd now from the terror of it

    1. So sorry to hear this. It has taken Kathy months to get over it. Do you mind telling me where you were located during the fires?


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