Thursday, July 08 23:00 MST

The Observatory is in excellent shape -- all perimeter lines have been burned out and it rained a bit on site today. The high humidity and low wind on the mountain reduced the intensity of fire considerably. We are in a very defensible position (and that's for years in the future).

The fire did not grow much today except for the areas being back fired. The line from Columbine to our access road (Switchback 2) remains to be back fired -- they plan on burning that out tomorrow if weather conditions permit. The cabins, both at Columbine and Turkey Flat, are in good position although there still remains some work to back fire some of the areas. The fire was just not very active today due to the low Haines Index, high humidity and low winds. Tomorrow the meteorologist is predicting a similar situation but with higher humidity and possible thunderstorms. We may have a real hard time keeping the back firing operation going. The concerns are beginning to switch from fire to erosion, floods and mud slides...

The Incident Team is starting to demobilize resources assigned to the fire. We will lose 2 helicopters tomorrow, 3 water tenders, several hot shot crews -- the plan is working... Tomorrow the perimeter line from Riggs Lake to Ladybug Saddle and on to the slurry batch plant should be completely back fired -- the most sensitive area is just north of Ladybug Saddle. The Team is watching that area carefully.

Governor Napolitano is scheduled to fly the fire tomorrow and meet with the community tomorrow evening. Congressman Rick Renzi is scheduled to visit with the cabin owners on Saturday about 11:00 AM.

Joe James and Shane Olsen will be coming off of the site tomorrow. H.L. Case and Butch Vaughn are headed up to relieve them and continue site monitoring duty until the site is opened for routine business. We appreciate Joe and Shane for there valiant efforts and hard work on behalf of all the organizations on site. Also we had Armando Hernandez, Billy Foster, Rick Hansen and H.L. Case running water tenders up at every opportunity to top off the water tanks -- keeping the sprinkler system operating. Mary James, Bonnie Ferguson, and Barbara Abril shared reception and admin duties through the holiday weekend to answer or direct the public's questions to the appropriate personnel. I salute these hard working folks on their dedication to Steward Observatory.

I expect (particularly if it rains) that we may be able to get back to routine business by mid week next week. Currently everyone going to the site must be in protective clothing (Nomex fire retardant clothing, hardhat and personal fire shelter).

I will attend the morning briefing tomorrow and post the new fire map. I will try to get a copy of the infrared map also.

Cheers everybody -- I am going to sleep good tonight!

John Ratje


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