2022 is barely at the halfway point, and already our Flagstaff headquarters – as well as parts of our Navajo Nation homeland – have come under threat of a raging wildfire for a second time.
Once again we find our homes and our corporate headquarters at the mercy of the Pipeline Fire, burning about 6 miles north of Flagstaff, and the Haywire Fire, which originated about 7.5 miles northeast of Doney Park. The only thing standing in the way of those rising flames and us are the roughly 1,000 fire personnel, including 14 hotshot crews and 18 hand crews, as well as nine helicopters. To those on the front lines risking their lives to save ours, all we can say – again – is thank you.
These are very trying times for those in the Flagstaff and Navajo communities. As the Arizona Republic reported, the Pipeline Fire has already burned countless acres that are sacred to the Hopi and Navajo peoples. This includes Dookʼoʼoosłííd, also known as the San Francisco Peaks, which not only carries significant cultural and spiritual significance to the Dine, but also provides nearby families with firewood and herbs.
Officials say that the fire is now burning well within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness – which includes the San Francisco Peaks. There is a minimal fire suppression opportunity within the volcanic region, even though firefighters are bravely doing all they can to contain the fire and save as much of this holy land as possible. This area is considered sacred to Nagtive peoples throughout the region, including the Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni.
This comes just a few months after the Tunnel Fire that burned nearly 20,000 acres northeast of Flagstaff and forced mass evacuations on the Navajo Nation. Dozens of homes were eventually destroyed. It was during this trying time that there was a tremendous outpouring of support from members of the Flagstaff community, some of whom welcomed Navjo families into their homes or places of business. It’s one of the many reasons we are so proud and honored to be a part of this community.
Unfortunately, the Tunnel Fire burn scar now leaves our community in danger of flash floods during the monsoon season, and the eventual scars from the now 27,000 acre Pipeline fire, and Haywire fires, threaten to do the same. Years of severe drought in Northern Arizona, what many call a “Megadrought,” has created extremely dry conditions that can cause a small campfire that someone carelessly forgets to put out to spread to thousands of acres in a matter of days.
Put simply, we depend on those who risk their lives to contain and defeat these fires, and it is almost a certainty that we are going to depend on them more and more in the near future. They are all that stand between the flames and the land, and the communities we love and call home.
So again we say A’he’hee, thank you, to all those firefighters bravely fighting for us and working hard to keep us safe.