Wild Night of Wild Fires

Yesterday evening and last night was rather interesting around here – weather wise that is. We should be 2 – 4 weeks away from the onset of our monsoon season. I even heard one report saying it was going to be late this year.

Last night, it didn’t look like it was going to be late. In the early evening, dark ominous clouds began rolling in just like a monsoon. In the distance, near the Canelo Hills and the Huachucha Mountains, heavy rain could be seen falling. About an hour before dusk, the thunder and lightning began. It was quite remarkable. There must have been 25 thunder bursts that caused the house and windows to rattle quite loudly. Many, many lightning strikes could be seen in the distance. The power must have flickered on and off a dozen times.

As it turns out, it never really did rain. Turned out to be a bunch of dry lightning, though surrounding areas clearly got some rain. With our extremely dry conditions here, the lightning set off 3 wildfires that I could see, maybe more.

One of the wildfires never amounted to much as it was quickly extinguished or just didn’t have any fuels. A second wild fire began right out back of our place. I couldn’t actually see where the fire was but thick smoke rose quickly. About 300 yards behind our house at our property line, is a good size valley. We are at the top of the hill, so we don’t actually see down into the valley. The fire was somewhere down in that valley. Judging by the smoke and intense orange glow on the hill, it looked like the fire was very close.

I called my neighbor who actually lives on the land adjacent to us and pretty much right on the start of that valley slope to see if it was close or not. He had just called 911 to report the fire and said it looked a couple miles away. Wow, it was pretty intense color and smoke for that far away. The fire burned for most of the night and threw a lot of smoke and burnt wood smell our way. When I got up in the morning, the fire appeared to have been contained and put out. Some light, lingering smoke was still in the area as there was almost no wind. This is the second wildfire nearby in the last few weeks that could have been a whole lot worse had there been any wind.

A third wildfire was started over near the Santa Rita Mountains by the town of Patagonia. It is much too far away to really tell it’s exact location. When I drove to work this morning, the smoke was very thick near Patagonia, but I couldn’t tell if it was left over or if the fire was still burning. When I came home this evening, it was quite clear the fire was still raging as heavy smoke filled that area. The fire may even be growing in size. It’s not a threat to us in Sonoita.

With the lack of much rain this winter, it is going to be an interesting fire season. We have already had more wild fires near us this year than any prior year. And with the monsoon approaching more weather started wild fires are likely.

Again this evening, monsoon like clouds and weather appears to be rolling in.