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Thu, Oct. 17

Wiederaenders: Preparation and a look to the past prove valuable

Grass surrounding the home of Ryan and Carrine Judy was burned during the Viewpoint Fire, as evidenced by this May 11 photo. (Ryan Judy/Courtesy)

Grass surrounding the home of Ryan and Carrine Judy was burned during the Viewpoint Fire, as evidenced by this May 11 photo. (Ryan Judy/Courtesy)

This time of year brings two things – roadwork and the threat of fires.

Both test our patience, yet, we can survive both through preparation.

Each morning when I leave my home for the office, in recent weeks, I have turned onto the Outer Loop Road for Highway 89 to avoid the backups and roadwork along Williamson Valley Road.

The alternate route adds about five minutes to my drive, as opposed to 10 to 15 minutes waiting in line.

The roads receive more attention during the hotter months because the materials the crews use need that temperature. In addition, May and June are categorically dry, which helps too.

Lately, however, it does appear that one cannot go 10 miles without hitting at least one construction zone – paving, widening, chip sealing, construction, etc.

It requires a lot of patience, leaving early for work or appointments and, as I mentioned, knowing of alternate routes.

Then comes the threat of fire. The Daily Courier jumped on a Walker home fire one night last week to be sure everyone in the area knew of the dangers. Based on the photographs, the end result of only one lost structure and the fire contained to the property, it could have been much worse.

The same thing happened on Wednesday when a storm cell – likely the same one – ignited fires in Mayer and Cottonwood. We pray for rain, folks, and this time of year it does not come alone but with the added challenge of lightning.

Our coverage of the Viewpoint Fire in mid-May proved the argument for preparation here. An image of a home surrounded by black, torched grasses – with no damage to the structure – was the result of the owner creating defensible space.

The idea is to: keep vegetation trimmed and cut back at least 30 feet from the building in all directions; remove all dead plants, grasses and weeds; clean gutters and the yard; and remove branches that overhang the roof, among other things.

The challenge there is you would have had to do some of these things before the fire restrictions were put in place; we’ve been under initial restrictions since April 20 and Stage II since May 4 – quite early this year and until a considerable amount of precipitation falls in the area.

Preparation, sometimes referred to a “preparing for the worst” or being ready for contingencies, means we should always think ahead.

That said, watch the Courier in the coming days and weeks for our coverage of some anniversaries. Most notable are: the 2013 Doce Fire, which hit the Granite Basin area and Granite Mountain; the 2017 Goodwin Fire, which roared into Mayer; and the fifth anniversary of the Yarnell Hill Fire and the deaths of 19 of Prescott’s Granite Mountain Hotshots.

A lot of lessons afoot, for “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Think about it.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or

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