Remembering the Aspen Fire

Craig Smith

Photo: Video by

Remembering the Aspen Fire

CREATED Jun. 14, 2013

SUMMERHAVEN, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - The fire destroyed more than three hundreds homes and businesses.  Hundreds of people and millions of dollars went into the fight.
We're talking about the Aspen Fire that ripped through Mount Lennon, ten years ago this month.

Now people who felt the fire, are looking back, and looking forward.

The fire broke out so close to the village of Summerhaven, the Forest Service immediately classified it as a Level One incident:  top priority---maximum effort.
Friday, Heidi Schewel of the Forest Service stood again where she and a group of firefighters watched fire sweep through the village.

She says, "...and that was what all of us hoped was not going to happen.">

Asked what people said as they watched the fire consumer the cabins, Schewel said, "People were silent."

During the fire, regular briefing on the fight brought tears to some of the people who lived on the mountain, or owned vacation cabins full of memories.
Ten years later Karen Shunk can manage to laugh.

"I lost everything I own in the fire.  My house was the house that was on the news 27 times. So we got to watch it (burn) almost daily."

Now hillsides are green again.  The Forest Service air dropped fresh seeds.  The forest that finally grows back will be less overgrown---less likely to support a mega fire like the Aspen.
Today Karen Shunk sells real estate in the re-born Summerhaven but fire seasons are still traumatic.

"I have panic attacks.  When I watch Colorado and everywhere, California burning...I have panic attacks."
And no one near the forest can relax until the rains come.