Forest Lakes Owners Association

Rodeo - Chediski Fire

June 21-22, 2002

The sun tries to burn through smoke filled Forest Lakes Friday morning, June 21.  Looking down Rim Road from Rim Loop.

Jeannie Van Lew
Forest Lakes resident

June 21

We listen all night for word to come across the scanner to evacuate Forest Lakes.  The word never comes.  We wake in the morning to the smell of smoke.  Upon arising, we can see a blanket of smoke laying across Forest Lakes like a thick fog.  The sun tries to burn through, but the smoke is thick.  Deer and elk are seen all through the neighborhood.  I'm sure they must know what's going on, and yet, they don't appear worried or anxious.  Will we get the word today to evacuate?

Winds continue to fan the two blazes.

The "Rodeo" fire covers 150,000 acres by midday, and the "Chediski" fire consumes 16,000 acres. By evening, the two are about 8 miles apart and still at 0 percent contained.

More than 8,000 people from 6 towns have been evacuated.

As many as 100 homeowners in Clay Springs, Pinedale and Linden defy fire officials' demands and sneak back to their houses. Some take four-wheel-drive vehicles to go around barriers, and saw down trees and bulldoze trenches to protect their homes.

June 22

An undetermined number of structures in Overgaard and Heber burn.

The fires combine to char more than 235,000 acres - nearly the size of Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale combined. There are conflicting reports about whether the "Rodeo" and the "Chediski" fires have merged.

Fire crews race to bulldoze two horizontal swaths south of Heber to contain the fires. They also try to build a containment line in Hop Canyon and perhaps set a prescribed burn to rob the "Rodeo" fire of fuel.

The efforts fail as the fires blow past the lines. Flames could be seen from the Juniper Ridge area of Show Low for the first time.

By evening, the "Rodeo" fire reaches Hop Canyon, triggering the ordered evacuation of Show Low's population of 7,700. Another 3,500 residents in Pinetop-Lakeside also get the orders to leave town.

No containment in sight.

What I saw looking in my rear view mirror, the day we were evacuated from Forest Lakes.

Don Gelowitz
Forest Lakes resident

Saturday, June 22, 2002

  • Residents were evacuated at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, June 22 as a precautionary measure.

  • Hot Shot crews, sheriff and other officials use Forest Lakes as a staging area. 

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