Members of the Canelo Cowboy Church work to contain the Longview Fire on March 5 at Sonoita Vineyards. (See related story) Photo by Nick Robbs

When Sharon Raymond saw flames rising up in her neighbor’s field on Camino Del Corral in Elgin on April 3, she immediately dialed 911. Because the Raymonds live on the east side of the county, her call was answered not by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Dept., but by a dispatcher on Fort Huachuca, causing a delay in the call being routed to the Sonoita Elgin Fire Dept. (SEFD). 

The issue for some residents in Elgin, as well as people living north of Sonoita, is that their 911 calls are routed to dispatch centers either in Cochise County or in Pima County. 

“It’s a problem,” SEFD Fire Chief Marc Meredith said. “The closer you are to a county line or a fire district boundary the more likely this is to happen. If someone has an emergency, they should call 911. But if you are not able to call through [to SEFD] on 911, call the landline for the SCC Sheriff’s Office because that’s who dispatches us.” The number for the Sheriff’s Dept. is (520) 761-7869. Meredith suggested that residents should save this number in their phone contact lists. He does not advise people to call the station directly, as the SEFD firefighters may be out on calls and unable to answer the phone. 

The Camino Fire threatened two homes, as well as livestock on Camino Del Corral in Elgin. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

The Camino Fire was a much smaller fire than the Longview Fire on March 5 that sent up dramatic plumes of smoke as it raced across the Babacomari Ranch.

One important takeaway from the Longview Fire is that it takes a community to fight a fire. In addition to SEFD and the AZ Department of Fire and Forestry Management, agencies from throughout Santa Cruz and Cochise counties responded to the fire. Volunteers stepped up to evacuate animals. Members of the Canelo Cowboy Church worked to try to contain the fire as it burned across Sonoita Vineyards, owned by Lori and Robi Reynolds. Our Lady of the Angels Church in Sonoita served as a check-in location for people forced to evacuate, the Patagonia Methodist Church was prepared to operate as a shelter, and the Sonoita Fairgrounds opened up its facilities to house displaced animals.

After the fire was put out, the community came together once again to participate in a fundraiser at the vineyard, as well as a gofundme campaign, to help the Reynolds family recover from the fire. (See related story). 

So, this got me thinking about the word “community.” What defines a community? The best definition I could find was that “members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other.” I’m proud to say this is a pretty good description of our corner of the world.