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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Arizona wildfire: Your experiences
US President George W Bush has declared a state of "major disaster" in Arizona in the wake of the massive wildfires wreaking havoc across the state.

The move means that federal money will go to help recovery efforts, including emergency housing for the estimated 30,000 people who have been forced to flee what is now the largest forest fire in Arizona's history.

The blaze is still threatening to engulf Show Low, a small town just 240 kilometres (150 miles) from the state capital, Phoenix.

Mr Bush visited the area on Tuesday as he set off for the G8 Summit in Canada.

He was expected to give encouragement to the more than 2,000 firefighters battling the flames, as well as Show Low's 8,000 residents who have had to flee their homes.

Have you been affected by the wildfires?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

It is such a helpless feeling to watch 38 years of your life be threatened, but I think this experience has allowed many of us to re-establish some lost values. Items and property are meaningless, family and friends that are safe are all that matters!!!
Linda, Show Low, USA

The last time there was a fire of this magnitude there were major floods the following spring.

Alia, USA
I was born in Arizona, near Show Low, and now my family lives in Durango. These fires seem to be burning up my hometowns, and I am almost afraid to go home again. I know that the view of missionary ridge will never be the same one I saw every morning in high school. I am most worried about what the next year will bring, as the last time there was a fire of this magnitude (Lime Creek Burn), there were major floods the following spring.
Alia, Washington DC USA

I live approximately 100 miles north of the wildfire, on the Navajo Nation. Even this far away, we've had a great deal of smoke. My eyes tear, but I'm not sure if it's due to the smoke, or from the devastation our southern neighbours are experiencing. The economy of the White Mountain Apaches (cousins to Navajo) will be destroyed for years to come. With fires burning to the south and to the north of us, we will be affected as well. I pray the Navajo Nation, already suffering from drought, will not experience the fires first hand.
Kathie Curley, Window Rock, Arizona USA

I also live in Albuquerque and I can't believe the smoke here. It has never been this bad before. The past few days have felt very strange because you can't even see the sun and that is something that never happens here in New Mexico. My prayers are with all of those involved, firefighters, and especially people with horses and other livestock that they have to haul out because of the fires. I know how that feels to not have a place to put your animals. Let's just pray for more rain here in the Southwest and hope that everyone is safe.
Liz, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

300,000 acres of forest are gone forever

Robert Solot, Querétaro, Mexico
I worked as a fire fighter for three years in the 1970s in central Arizona. Back then, everyone could see that the government's fire suppression policy was creating a time bomb. By "everyone" I mean those of us who worked on the ground, the environmentalists, and especially the people who make their living in the area. There are thousands of fires every summer due to natural causes (lightning) which normally would burn out the undergrowth in very wet weather but they were attacked aggressively with the latest technology which only made the problem worse. It doesn't matter who you blame anymore because 300,000 acres of forest are gone forever leaving bigger problems for the state and for the federal government to solve.
Robert Solot, Querétaro, Mexico

To all the people affected by this disaster, my thoughts are with you. I cannot imagine what you must be feeling. With love and prayers.
Lauren X, London and New York

I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hundreds of miles away from the blazes. However, the smoke from all the fires is so thick here that we can't even see the mountains. It looks like a heavy fog that won't lift and it's all over the south west. I have been through many fires here in New Mexico as well and it is the most frightening thing you can experience.
Katy, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

I live between Cheyenne and Laramie Wyoming, some 200 miles away from the Haymen fire near Denver. It is amazing because we could see the smoke when the fire was at its largest. It has caused a lot of suffering for people here with allergies, and even this far away we try to stay inside as much as possible.
Erin MacEvoy, Laramie, USA

Last Thursday when flying back to Arizona from Denver we flew right over the Show Low area. There was black ash in the clouds up to 20,000 ft and looking down on one of the hot spots was like looking into the mouth of a volcano. It looked like a scene from Dante's inferno.
Phil Briers, Cornville, AZ, USA

The skies have been covered in smoke for five days

Tammy Iralu, Gallup, NM
Where I live, in Gallup, New Mexico, about 150 miles northwest of Show Low, the skies have been covered in smoke for five days. Some days, the sun looks like a thin pink mint and you can stare straight at it.
Tammy Iralu, Gallup, NM

I am a native of Safford, Arizona, which is about 180 miles from Show Low. I wish to note that while Show Low is still threatened according to reports the towns of Heber, pop. 800 and Overgaard, pop. 750, have been basically totally destroyed.
Patrick Guzik, Dallas, TX, USA

I wish that the forest management people in the Forest Service were allowed to do their jobs to ensure the safety of the forests without the environmentalists attacking them for doing what's right, and what could ultimately save the forests.
Jon Lind, Morrison, Colorado USA

Many members of our army national guard have been called up to fight the fire. In fact, one of our guard units is stationed right in Show Low. They are not only doing their civic duty, but are protecting their own families and homes. We are having our fourth straight year of record drought. Arizona is half lowland desert and half high mountain plateaus, and dry enough anyway without adding drought on top of it. It usually only rains a couple of months a year, and we haven't had even that. The ground water levels for the entire state are dropping steadily year by year, as urban sprawl reaches into fragile - and dry - areas of nature that are not suited to support such a lifestyle, and it's a careless waste of our scarce and precious water resources.
Janet Pearson, Phoenix, Arizona

I lived in Flagstaff, Az a few years ago and the area is one of the most beautiful I have seen. My thoughts are with those that are affected and I hope that the authorities can control the fires before much more of the state is destroyed.
Katy, London, UK

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25 Jun 02 | Americas
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