Radio amateurs give support in Arizona wildland firefighting
Amateur radio support of the Arizona wildfire response continued during the week. Cliff Hauser, KD6XH, the American Radio Relay League’s Arizona Section manager reported that enough amateur radio operators are on hand to support the firefighting efforts. President Bush has declared parts of the state federal disaster areas.
In addition to VHF and UHF repeaters, amateurs are maintaining HF nets on 3990 and 7265 kHz. An FCC communications emergency has put both HF frequencies, plus or minus 3 kHz, off limits to anyone not involved in handling emergency traffic. The ban will remain in effect until lifted. The ARRL’s station, W1AW, has suspended its bulletin transmissions on 3990 kHz for the duration of the ban.
The combined Rodeo-Chediski Fire now has scorched more than 420,000 acres of Arizona woodlands. Upwards of 600 homes and businesses have been destroyed, and some 30,000 Arizona residents have been evacuated as a result of the fire.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has taken on the job of coordinating communications during the emergency. Warren Andreason, K7CWA, SATERN’s Western Area coordinator, reported that SATERN has stations and operators at six locations in Arizona, including one in the threatened community of Show Low, where the National Guard asked the Salvation Army to set up a kitchen operation. Another has been set up at the Salvation Army’s Camp Ponderosa near Heber, which is serving as a Federal Emergency Management Agency incident command post as well as a responder staging area.
SATERN Coordinator Pat McPherson, WW9E, said the HF network has been effective in smoothing the flow of goods and supplies coming into the affected area. At one point, McPherson said, an on-the-air conference of Salvation Army principals established procedures and refine supply-chain logistics. “This only occurred due to the opportunity for all the principals to be on the air via amateur radio,” he said. McPherson said that, so far, SATERN has had a good supply of volunteer reinforcements from the amateur community.
Hauser said other amateurs are supporting Red Cross facilities in Flagstaff, Holbrook and Phoenix. Operators from the Arizona Amateur Radio Club’s station, W7IO, are staffing the Arizona Emergency Operations Center in Phoenix. Cris McBride, KB7QXQ, said that about 30 radio amateurs from the Show Low area—including members of the Kachina Amateur Radio Club—have been helping to maintain contact between the Navajo County EOC and the state EOC. McBride, who lives five miles from Show Low, was among those evacuated June 19.
Hauser reported that Dave Epley, N9CZV, remains in Show Low, whose 8,000 residents have been largely evacuated. Epley has been handling health-and-welfare traffic for town residents who chose not to leave. Hauser said he plans to spend next week in Show Low to help out.
Meanwhile in Colorado, Amateur Radio Emergency Service support for the Hayman Fire concluded June 25. Several Colorado ARES teams spent the past few weeks volunteering their services as needed to local governments and to relief organizations, including the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. ARRL Colorado Section Manager Jeff Ryan, K0RM, reported that most evacuated residents have been allowed to return home.
(American Radio Relay League Letter)