Photo from KOV TV News Helicopter

By Mary Alice Murphy

John Kavchar, the lookout, who reported the start of the Signal Fire a couple of minutes after 3 p.m. Sunday, May 11, 2014, gave the Beat a report on the progression of how things happened.

"An engine crew was at the lookout when one of them pointed to drift smoke," Kavchar said. "I looked more closely and realized it was coming from Meadow Creek. I immediately called Dispatch and let my boss know he needed to call in air tankers. His reply was: 'I've already done that.'"


Last year after the Silver Fire, Kavchar said the Forest Service, knowing that the last and largest stand of mixed conifer in the forest was on the north slope of Signal Peak, had created a plan for when a fire started in the area.

"That plan was immediately put into place," Kavchar reported. "Last year when the Silver Fire began, a lot of resources were on a couple of small fires in the Wilderness, so it took longer to get them onto the fire. This time the resources were available and put right to work putting the fire out."

He reported it took about 25 minutes for the engine crew to get down to the fire, and the blaze was already rapidly growing.

Kavchar's partner, Teresa, a retired lookout, began packing what they needed to take with them when they evacuated.

"I stayed on the radio," Kavchar said. "We had some through hikers on the Continental Divide Trail that Phil, the Hillsboro lookout, had told me on Friday were heading my way and due to arrive Sunday or Monday. We warned them. We also had some dirt bikers, at the bottom of the hill, who, when they saw the smoke, came up to the tower. I told them to head down the trail. Turns out they went down the road to the Continental Divide Trail and took it out to Cherry Creek. They were mature bikers and knew what to do. A helicopter pulled out two people, along with their four dogs, from the Lockney Holdings.

"Around 3:30 or 4 p.m., we headed down the trail," he continued. "It was so windy, we didn't think they would be able to fly, but they did and put down a lot of slurry."

He said he has talked to people about the Whitewater-Baldy burn of 2012, who told him that the aspens are not coming back as fast as they thought they would, perhaps because the soil was sterilized by the hot burn.

Kavchar also guessed that because of all the hazardous, burned timber, which will fall, that the Signal Peak Road might not be open again for a year or two.

When asked about the damage around the lookout tower, Kavchar said he would not return to the area before Sunday because he would have to take training to return to an active fire area. "The trees on the west side of the tower were not burned, because the fire came up the slope and the winds carried it along the elevation line to the east."

He told the Beat he was today, Wednesday, getting out of doing paperwork at the Forest Service office to put closure signs on trails and roads.


Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

For those of my subscribers who may be in the Eurozone, the Beat has updated its Privacy Policy and its Terms of Service to comply with GDPR.

For those of you who don't have a clue what GDPR is, I didn't either until a few days ago. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it unifies data privacy requirements across all members of the Eurozone. 

Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat redership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

The Grant County Beat endeavors to post to the Elections page, under News, at the least, notices of candidates for Grant County races. Some candidates for statewide races have also sent their notices. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Note: This is another component that is in progress of going to a different software to make it easier for you to use and find classifieds that interest you. Check Out Classifieds. And look at Sponsors to see who is helping the Beat.

It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Note that if an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

When you click on the blue and orange button on the upper left side of most pages, you will find out how you can help the Beat defray its expenses, which, with increased readership, continue to grow. You will arrive at a page that gives you options of how you can Help the Beat. All help is greatly appreciated and keeps the news you want and need coming into your browser.

Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com