100 hotshots expected to arrive to fight Brown Fire - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

100 hotshots expected to arrive to fight Brown Fire

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SIERRA VISTA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's a sleepless night for many Cochise County residents, as they keep a close eye on the plumes of smoke and flames burning in the Huachuca Mountains near their homes.
 
The fire is burning 8,000 feet high up in the mountains, in the Garden Canyon, on the north side of the mountains in the Fort Huachuca Army Installation. 
 
The plumes of smoke were visible more than 30 miles away.
 
As of Monday evening, forest service officials said the fire had burned about 300 acres of land.  About 70 firefighters, including state crews and two hotshot crews were in the area, and about five aircraft including a DC-10 airplane were helping fight the flames.  Forest service officials said more resources were on the way.
 
The firefighting base camp and heli-drop stations were set up inside Fort Huachuca. Helicopters swooped down to haul hundreds of gallons of water from big tubs set up on the grounds of the fort.

Forest service officials said they were aggressively attacking the flames with water and retardant, but they had no boots on the ground at this time.

"We know aircraft do not put out fire, firefighters cutting fire lines do.  We're trying to minimize the spread of the fire.  That's why we're throwing a lot of water and retardant on this," said Heidi Schewel, a public information officer for the Brown fire.

The plumes of smoke were too close to home for those living and working at Fort Huachuca.

"Not only is it too close to home, it is home.  It is on Ft. Huachuca now.  This is serious, it's very concerning and a bit alarming.  We're keeping a very, very, very close eye on things, it's very personal to us now," said Tanja Linton, a media relations spokeswoman for Fort Huachuca.

Forest service officials said fire managers and crew supervisors spent the day scouting the area.  They are working on a plan of attack, and where to send the firefighters and hotshot crews, once they get "boots on the ground."  Schewel said firefighter and public safety was their number one concern.

The terrain was too steep and rugged, Schewel said firefighters would have to be flown into the area and dropped off, from there they would have to hike several miles to get to the fire.

"We will have 100 hotshots here tomorrow, plus 30 other firefighters.  We don't just want to put people up there, we're coming up with a plan," Schewel said.

Military officials said they were working closely with forest service officials, and would provide any help needed to put this fire out.  The fire interrupted training in the Garden Canyon area on Sunday.

"Our first concern is to keep our soldiers safe.  We have evacuated soldiers from canyons, and all training on the ranges in Garden Canyon have ceased," Linton said.

More planes are expected to arrive on Tuesday to help fight the flames. Another heli-base will also open up so more water will be available for drops.

Forest service officials said the fire was human caused. Weather is a big concern, with winds expected to move into the area on Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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