Verde Heritage -- 1956: FIRE ON MINGUS, June 19.
FIRE RAGES OUT OF CONTROL.
"The largest fire in the history of the Jerome District of Prescott National Forest was raging out of control on Wednesday afternoon. Myron Heyerdahl, administrative assistant of Prescott National Forest said the fire had burned 5,500 acres by 1 p.m. Wednesday."
"Huge billows of smoke and ashes from the five mile long fire dimmed the hot summer sun in the Verde Valley, and ashes were falling as far away as Cottonwood. Gusty winds fanned the blaze and weather conditions made this the worst possible time for a forest fire."
"Mountain Meadow Ranch, on the top of Mingus Mountain, was considered in danger by the forest service. Two bulldozers, a water truck and 18 men were placed on duty near the ranch to guard against a breakthrough. The fire camp is located near the ranch, and all materials are being hauled to the fire from the Prescott side."
"The fire started on state land half way between Dewey and Cherry about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday," July 19. "It had spread to 2,500 acres by 4 p.m."
"Wilson M. Beveridge, forest supervisor, said the fire was caused when 170 acres of controlled brush burning by the Range Management Department of the University got out of control and rapidly spread up Mingus."
"Joe Adam, Jerome district ranger, and Charles Ames, assistant superintendent, are in charge of the fire, Beveridge said."
"Tuesday, Beveridge received a federal order closing Prescott National Forest. All other national forests in Arizona and New Mexico were closed. 'This order closes the forest as tight or possibly tighter than any such order ever issued,' the supervisor said."
(The Verde Independent; Thursday, June 21, 1956; page 1.)
HOT CONTROVERSY FORECAST REGARDING RESULT OF FIRE ON MINGUS.
"One of the hottest controversies in the history of Arizona range and forest management is in progress this week over the burning of approximately 14,500 acres of Prescott National Forest land which was set on fire when a brush burning experiment got out of control near Cherry."
"The experiment was being conducted by the Range Management Department of Arizona. The department's director, Dr. Robert Humphrey, has called the fire, 'a blessing in disguise.'"
"Contacted by The Verde Independent Wednesday morning, Wilson M. Beveridge, forest supervisor, said steps to be taken regarding the cause of the fire are, 'completely out of my hands. I can only refer you to the statement of Regional Forester Fred Kennedy.'"
"Kennedy's statement was in reply to one issued by Dr. Richard A. Harvill, president of the University of Arizona, who said the U of A experimenters 'carried out fully all of its responsibilities under specifications provided by the forest service.' Harvill also said a forest service official admitted the service failed to take enough precautions for the experimental blaze."
"Kennedy said the forest service does not assume all of the blame. 'The forest service never has, and does not now believe that fire can be used generally as a tool to eradicate brush and replace it with grass,' Kennedy said."
"Forest service personnel will have to assume a share of the blame for the fire, Kennedy continued. Forest service men were present and were skeptical of the advisability of going ahead with the burn, but they failed to stop it, he said. 'The fire certainly was not beneficial,' Kennedy declared."
(The Verde Independent; Thursday, June 28, 1956; page 1.)
RESEEDING OF 7,400 ACRES ON MINGUS BURN STARTED BY AIRPLANE ON JULY 3.
"Reseeding operations on 7,400 acres of the 14,500 acre Mingus Mountain burn began at 5:15 Tuesday from Clemenceau Airport."
"Approximately 17,000 pounds of grass will be planted over the area by airplane. Above 6,500 feet a mixture of weeping lovegrass and crested wheatgrass will be sown. Below this elevation only lovegrass will be planted."
"Charles Ames, assistant supervisor of Prescott National Forest, is in charge of the seeding, and is directing the operation from the airport. He said 9,000 pounds of lovegrass and 8,000 pounds of crested wheatgrass is being sown. He said there are six million seeds per pound of lovegrass, so the area should have a fairly heavy seed saturation. The wheatgrass is much coarser. An average of three pounds per acre will be sown on the upper elevations and one pound on the lower."
"Contract for the seeding has been signed with William Burns of Coolidge for .4784 cents per acre. He also received a contract for the same price to seed 400 acres near Camp Wood."
"Two planes are working from the airport, a Piper Super Cub, and a Stearman biplane. By 9 a.m. Tuesday both had made three trips over the burned area. The forest service contract calls for completion of the job within five days, weather permitting."
"Meanwhile, Wilson M. Beveridge, Prescott National Forest supervisor, said the forest is still closed, with the exception of three campgrounds, Indian Creek, Granite Creek and Potato Patch."
(The Verde Independent; Thursday, July 5, 1956; page 1.)
The forest was reopened for public use 4 weeks from the date it was closed, only hours before the start of the 14,500 acre fire on Mingus Mountain.