Chairman Pete Rios Gets Update on Copper Creek and Aravaipa Fires


FLORENCE – Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Rios paid a visit to San Manuel Airport to meet with forest service crews fighting the Copper Creek and Aravaipa fires.

The Chairman arrived at the airport on Thursday afternoon since it is used as the staging area to shuttle crews in and out of the fire lines. 

“I’m pleased that our airport can offer the forest service the amenities they need to battle these blazes,” Chairman Rios said.  “The crews gave me a full update on the status of the Copper Creek and Aravaipa fires.  They are confident both have been fully contained.  Considering where the fires are located, that is very good news.”
Pinal County owns and administers the San Manuel Airport.
According to Ted Risch, the Supervisor of the National Forest Service Helicopter Crew, San Manuel Airport is a good place to use as a base when a fire breaks out in the Galiuro Mountains or the north side of the Catalina Mountains.
“We have used this airport as a base of operations quite a bit in the past few years,” Risch said.  “It helped out in our fight against the Aspen Fire in 2003 and other blazes that have broken out in the area.  We like it because it there is no dust to be stirred up when we take off and land.”
Risch said that the crew stationed in San Manuel has been on numerous fires in the past month.
“We just got off the Monument Fire in Sierra Vista,” Risch said.  “We’ve also been called into fight the Horseshoe 2 and Murphy Fires as well.  We’ve been busy.”
Due to the rugged terrain and lack of accessibility to the site of the fires, the National Forest Service is using a Eurostar helicopter to shuttle crews in and out of the site.
The Eurostar helicopter that is based at the airport is on temporary assignment to the National Forest Service in Southern Arizona.  The helicopter and crews move around the western United States depending on where they are needed.
“We have this helicopter in the area from April 22 until July 10 and then it will move to another location for their fire season,” Risch said.  “We’re just like a little army – we’ll go where we are needed.”
Chairman Rios thanked the crews for their hard work and efforts over the past week to help battle the Copper Creek and Aravaipa fires.
“I have offered this crew any assistance Pinal County can provide,” Chairman Rios said.  “This is a hard job for everyone.  The crews battle the fire and the Arizona heat.  That is the definition of a tough job.”

Chairman Rios talks with Ted Risch of the National Forest Service on the status of the Copper Creek fire.

Chairman Rios shakes the hand of Chuck Turner after a tour of the Eurostar helicopter being used by fire crews battling the Copper Creek fire.


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