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Wildfire fight continues near Patagonia

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Wildfire fight continues near Patagonia

By Craig Smith. CREATED May 19, 2013

PATAGONIA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - As of late Sunday the Soldier Basin Fire was still ripping through the back country near Patagonia but firefighters said they had a good day.  The fire expanded only four hundred acres, from 1600 to 2000 acres.

While the fire expanded through the night, firefighter commanders needed to think safety and pull the firefighters off the steep slopes to rest for the morning.

Fire Information Officer Michelle Fidler says, "We're working in pretty steep rugged terrain so there's a lot of threats to our firefighter safety between the heat and the snakes and the terrain."
    
To people in the town of Patagonia the fire is still safe in the distance but resident like Jon Koch, know how fires can explode into much bigger threats.

"That's the biggest concern we have here is to make sure it's contained early and forcefully."

Air support is critical to drop water and fire retardant.  That's where helicopters come in, and where Janie Trafton has been watching her son serve with a helicopter crew.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith said to her: "He's the helicopter support crew.  You're kind of his support crew?

Trafton, says, "Exactly. I just brought Apple cake and it was even warm, and he noticed that."

Now, firefighters are in for another day of doing whatever they can to steer the fire.  That means doing whatever they can to take away the fuel to move forward.  It means cutting and hacking vegetation and setting some of their own fires to deprive the fire of fuel.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press