Fire officials ready to scale back resources

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Fire officials are ready to scale back resources now that the Soldier Basin fire is 70 percent contained.

The human-caused fire has charred more than 10,000 acres, and tonight, fire officials met with residents.

The Soldier Basin fire is hardly visible tonight from the firefighter camp at the Nogales airport.

There's a slight breeze and fire officials will be keeping tabs on the wind forecast.

During a community meeting tonight in Patagonia, fire officials told residents they've got a handle on this fire.

People asked questions about strategy and we learned firefighters are spending a lot of time securing a type of cactus that catches fire and then rolls away, spreading flames.

Firefighters have been bracing the cacti with rocks.

Fire officials say they received all of the resources they needed to tackle the flames but not all residents agreed with that.

"They attacked this fire totally wrong," said resident Linda Gheen. "They should have hit it with everything in the beginning. Our community survives on tourism. They came very close to the spotted owl habitat, we're tracking jaguars."

"I know they know what they're doing," resident Judy Mills said. "This isn't just volunteers trying to figure out what to do. There is strategy and you can appreciate the complexity of it."

Fire officials admit they probably should have held a community meeting days ago,

but some residents tell me a fire official has been available in town every day to answer questions.

Fire officials say they got all the resources they needed to get the Soldier Basin fire under control.

The cost of the combating this fire stands at $1.25 million.

While many residents expressed gratitude for the efforts to control the fire, others were concerned about all that charred land.

"I just feel terrible for all the habitat we lost. We're in a major restoration project here and everything we've worked for, we're starting from scratch again," Gheen said.

"You see these tired firefighters going back and forth in these trucks, they look pretty tired when they're going back but they love what they do," Mills stated. "They're so committed."

Tomorrow, crews will be patrolling the fire scene looking for hot spots, and if thing are looking really good, we're told they might send away the water trucks.

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