Having lived in Prescott for many years and having just visited again a couple of months ago this tragedy is quite shocking for a small town like Prescott:
An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation’s fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.
It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.
The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Residents huddled in shelters and bars, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.
The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew based in nearby Prescott, leaving the city’s fire department reeling.
“We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said at a news conference Sunday evening. “We’re devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you’ll ever meet.” [Associated Press]
When I was visiting Prescott a couple of months ago I actually hiked the trail to the top of Granite Mountain which is where one fire already began this summer It was really dry and I remember thinking to myself how this place would really burn if a fire started. Unfortunately a couple of months later one of these fires did start and it led to the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in the community. This shows what dangerous work fighting fires is and we should all be thankful for the great work firefighters do.
- Name: Western Museum of Mining & Industry
- Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Cost: $8 adult, less for seniors and children
- Hours: 9am – 4pm, Mon – Sat
- More Info: WMMI website
With as rich a history as Colorado Springs has and the amount of tourists that visit the city; this has caused Springs to become home to numerous museums. I have slowly been taking the time to go and check them out. The latest one I have stopped by and visited was the Western Museum of Mining and Industry located north of town near the US Air Force Academy:
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The entrance to the museum can be a little tricky to find but the best way to spot the entrance from North Gate Boulevard is to look for this old farmhouse:
If you see this farmhouse then you have found the entrance to the museum. Just drive around to the back of the farmhouse and the museum is easily visible:
Here is something that in the near future will likely happen at all US National Parks:
Disposable plastic water bottles in shops, vending machines, hotels and grocery stores at Grand Canyon National Park will disappear early next year under a plan by park officials to ban the sale of them.
But first they’ll have to demonstrate they’ve met guidelines issued late Wednesday by the National Park Service that require a review of water availability, visitor health and safety, cost and benefits, and get the approval of the regional director. Grand Canyon spokeswoman Shannan Marcak said Thursday that the park believes it already is positioned to comply with the guidelines.
“We need to fully review it, and it takes a little time to figure out if we have all those things covered,” she said.
Park Service director Jon Jarvis nixed a bottle ban at Grand Canyon late last year just weeks before it was to be implemented and said the agency would develop a national policy. Former Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin raised suspicions that the action was due to influence from the Coca-Cola Co. — a major water bottle distributor — but the Park Service and Coca-Cola denied that. [Associated Press]
I can understand the reasoning for the ban considering the amount of water bottles I have seen left as litter at various National Parks. When I hike I use a Camelbak and one reusable water bottle depending on the length of the hike and the need for additional water. This is probably something that is going to annoy the public at first, but I think over time they will get used to it.
I write a lot about Native-Americans here On-Walkabout so this recent news about citizenship requirements of the Cherokee Nation I found quite interesting:
The nation’s second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.
The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.
But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called “Freedmen” out of the tribe was proper.
The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves.
Some 4,000 Indians died during the forced march, which became known as the “Trail of Tears.”
“And our ancestors carried the baggage,” said Marilyn Vann, the Freedman leader who is a plaintiff in the legal battle.
Officially, there are about 2,800 Freedmen, but another 3,500 have tribal membership applications pending, and there could be as many as 25,000 eligible to enter the tribe, according to Vann. [Reuters]
I hadn’t realized that the Cherokee had a large slave population until I watched the excellent PBS documentary “We Shall Remain” that showed how the Cherokee plantation owners had grown wealthy with the use of slaves. Wikipedia has a good posting that chronicles the Freedmen citizenship issue that is not nothing new and has been going on for decades. It seems the heart of this matter appears to be a combination of Cherokee saying that blood matters in regards to determining who is Cherokee as well as the number of Freedmen joining the tribe just to access services provided by the Cherokee such as free health care.
I have had the opportunity to have spent many years living in the American West which has given me an opportunity to hike many of the trails in this area of the country. I have also spent plenty of time in one of my favorite areas of the world, Hawaii which I have the opportunity to explore on foot as well. I have written a posting for every place I have hiked to, but below is an archive of the various hikes I have taken in the United States that I have had the time to write about:
This is a pretty amazing amount to pay even for a photograph as historic as this:
A 130-year-old photo, billed as the only authenticated picture of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, sold for $2.3 million at a Denver auction Saturday night.
The Old West Show & Auction had estimated the tintype — an early photographic technique that used metal plates — to bring in between $300,000 and $400,000.
“When the bidding ended, the whole room erupted in clapping and people leapt to their feet,” said Melissa McCracken, spokeswoman for the auction. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before,”
The winning bidder was billionaire William Koch. [CNN]
Mr. Koch must be a huge fan of Old West history to pay such an amount for this photo. Then again he is a billionaire so maybe he doesn’t have much else to do with his money?
It’s official El Paso has now gone 100 straight days without rain:
It’s been 100 days and counting without any precipitation in the Borderland. The all time record is 109 days.”It would be nice to get some moisture,” said Cassandra Rodriguez, a west El Paso resident.Some are concerned about animals coming down from the mountain in search of water.”It’s very dry. I think that’s why the mountain lion came down,” said Anita Hernandez.A mountain lion was recently spotted in El Paso, as well as a bobcat.”I mean, they are obviously looking for water, and we can’t provide it; that sucks,” Rodriguez told KFOX 14.KFOX 14 contacted El Paso Water Utilities to see if the dry spell will impact the water supply in the city.Christina Montoya, a spokeswoman, said the water supply in El Paso is good despite the drought. She said if the drought persisted into next summer, then there would be more concern.Montoya said water conservation, recycling water, and a fairly new desalination system are all helping to keep El Paso’s water supply sufficient. [KFOX TV]
You can read more at the link.
I have never been to Yellowstone, but it is some place I have always wanted to go. Considering that I have been to two of the world’s six supervolcanoes Yellowstone is definitely a place I need to visit in the near future since it is one of those six supervolcanoes. Anyway scientists have recently discovered that the supervolcano lying underneath Yellowstone is even bigger than previously believed:
The gigantic underground plume of partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano might be bigger than previously thought, a new image suggests.
The study says nothing about the chances of a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone, but it provides scientists with a valuable new perspective on the vast and deep reservoir of fiery material that feeds such eruptions, the last of which occurred more than 600,000 years ago. [Related: Infographic - The Geology of Yellowstone.]
Earlier measurements of the plume were produced by using seismic waves — the waves generated by earthquakes — to create a picture of the underground region. The new picture was produced by examining the Yellowstone plume’s electrical conductivity, which is generated by molten silicate rocks and hot briny water that is naturally present and mixed in with partly molten rock. [Live Science]
You can read a whole lot more about the Yellowstone supervolcano at the link.
Here is something that readers may find interesting in the wake of all the natural disasters recently:
The devastating earthquake and tsunami near Japan have led to renewed interest in the safest places to live. Over the past week, Web searches on “safest countries” and “countries with fewest natural disasters” have more than tripled.
According to a recent article from Slate, the countries of Estonia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Andorra may be the least likely to suffer a natural disaster. The data comes from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
The records aren’t totally complete, but again according to Slate, the centre has “no record of fatal floods, droughts, earthquakes, or severe storms in any of these countries from 1900 to 2009.”
Of course not everybody can just up and move to Qatar. For people who want to stay in the United States, there are similar studies on the safest places to live. A company called Sustain Lane found that in 2008, all things considered, Mesa, Arizona, is the safest big city to live. Miami, Florida, with its hurricanes, was found to be the least safe. [Yahoo Shine]
You can read more at the link, but here was the 10 Safest States to Live:
- Rhode Island
- Washington, DC
- South Carolina
I was surprised to see that New Mexico didn’t make the list considering that as far as natural disasters it is on par with the other Rocky Mountain states that made the list. Really the only natural disaster you have to worry about in New Mexico is wildfires.
This folks is why I am glad I bought a home in El Paso:
In most parts of the United States, Americans have lost hope that their homes will restore their value or that unemployment will drop significantly anytime soon. But in the westernmost corner of Texas, there’s more than hope — there’s an unlikely building boom happening. The U.S. military base Fort Bliss, covering an area larger than Rhode Island, has become one of America’s largest military installations, and that’s having a dramatic impact on an otherwise depressed economy.
Congress might not have known it then, but its move to expand Fort Bliss as part of the 2005 changes under the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) has coincidentally saved El Paso, Texas from falling into the depths of the latest economic recession. Whereas home construction has continued to drop to record lows across most of the country, this city of 751,000 is experiencing relatively robust growth. In fact, the influx of soldiers, military personnel and their families has created a shortage of housing units on the base, helping drive up demand for housing and developers in El Paso, according to U.S. military officials. [Fortune]
Read the rest of the article, but the author is right that housing prices have not really gone up, but they haven’t dropped either. It doesn’t really matter to me because when I leave El Paso I’m not going to sell my home anyway; considering the demand for military rentals, I’ll be renting it out.