Holy shit.

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Found these two time-lapse vids on facebook. A guy named Keiji Iwai put them together. You can see his website here: www.keijiiwai.com. (Note: music will play on homepage. Might want to turn down your speakers first.)

This is the first video: www.keijiiwai.com/Clients/SchultzFireSmall.mov.

I can’t look at that without getting a lump in my throat. I know just what I’m looking at. I’ve got a lot of memories from time well spent up on those hills. A lot of good times, a lot of suffering.

Cole & Gnome get their Zissou on, Waterline Road circa 2005.
Cole & Gnome get their Zissou on, Waterline Road circa 2005.

Pretty much everything that looks green in that photo is no more. It’s more of less all in the blue area on the map linked above.

From Iwai’s own description of the second video via facebook:

I edited another time-lapse video of the Schultz Fire from the same night, this one from a wider angle.


Jesus. What a mess. One campfire. That’s all it took.

It may be time to disconnect the camping experience from the requirement of burning things. It may be time to ban the campfire. Outright. Full stop. There are parts of this state that have been recovering for years, years, from one campfire left burning unattended. The experience of hundreds of other citizens is diminished in trade for one group’s need to burn things.

You don’t need a campfire. You can cook without it. You don’t need a campfire. You will be warm without it.

Having a campfire is not a right. It is a privilege. A campfire is a responsibility. A campfire is a choice.

And the state should rescind that privilege. It has gone too far. Public policy demands we take appropriate steps to preserve the forest so all can benefit from it’s continued existence – never mind the threat to home and personal property. If this is the cost that we all must bare so a group of campers can burn things, I say that cost is too high. Full fire restrictions, across the board.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

25 Replies to “Holy shit.”

  1. …you are 100% right, gianni…lotta wise thoughts in this post & looking at that foto, i can fully understand why you have a lump in your throat…

    …despite the truth in what i said regarding the cleansing property of wildfires, the heartbreak is palpable especially in light the fact that as you suggest “The experience of hundreds of other citizens is diminished in trade for one group’s need to burn things”

    …enuff said…

  2. I physically can’t watch the news at night… I change the channel as soon as someone mentions the Flagstaff fires. It breaks my freaking heart. I know that forest fires are a part of nature. I know that in the long run the forest will probably be healthier for it… But the fact that this was done by a person, and not by a lightning strike just kills me. I go to Flag 5-6 times a year just to be able to ride in the shade… Just to be able to look up and see trees… I don’t even live in Flagstaff, but it feels like someone broke into my house and stole something from me.

  3. We in Tucson feel for you Flagstaffers. Unfortunately, we can relate after losing most of Mt Lemmon due to a careless smoker. It’s terrible.

  4. fuck…my little slice of heaven camping spot along 420K is now gone. The wife and I had been going there over the past 5 years to camp and ride. That was where the friends would meet, camp and ride for days in those hills. quite a shame, really. sure glad we got to visit earlier this month. bummer.

  5. Unfortunately this is only the beginning. With those slopes and no vegetation to hold the earth in place erosion will cause as much damage, or more than the fire.

    Many condolences for your losses. It’s too bad this scene will play out more and more through the west in the coming years. Bad forest management, lack of educated land users, and things like pine-beetle kill will produce more scenes of destruction.

    Here, in CO, some counties have 85% kill rates in their lodgepole pine forest. One lightning-strike, one unattended campfire, one smoldering butt is all it takes. With the large numbers of people building and residing in the thick of it only increases the chances.

    Good luck, I’ll shake my rain-maker for you.

  6. Still wouldn’t be surprised if the “boycott Arizona” bunch had a hand in this.

  7. Taxes pay the way of the USFS so they can sit around and tell us where we can’t ride. Then when real concerns come to hand, they again sit around, only then to do nothing preemptive to guard against what they measured to be coming for over half a century; citing that it is “public land” and they are unable to limit the People’s right to recreate.

    The USFS: A confederacy of douche nozzles.

    Burn them, with fire.

  8. Gnome, I hear ya. It bothers me that all that Wilderness that I was never allowed to ride upon with my mountain bike is now a pile of ashes. Good thing I never got to ride it, because my tire tracks sure would have made a difference. It’s gone now. It’ll take years to recover. Makes me wish I had ridden it. All of it.



  10. FWIW – it’s already illegal to burn a forest down. Banning campfires to save a forest is like banning alcohol to stop domestic violence. Yeah, punish millions of good people for the few people who are already breaking laws already on the books.

    Funny, last I looked, banning people from bad behavior isn’t effective – it just gives people who are looking to control other people some piece of mind. Ban porn, religious people feel so good, but porn would still exist.

    Thanks for the reminder, I always lose touch with how people, liberals and conservatives, have these knee jerk reactions to fucking over huge groups of people – it always starts with a sentiment like “stop forest fires.”

    Take away my campfire, and I’m not camping – that’s why I go camping for godsakes, to get drunk with family and friends around a fire. My children love smores, I love coal roasted bake potatoes, and I’m responsible with my fires. So fuck off with this banning shit. Anyhoo, I’m off to smoke a bowl and rip the tags off my mattress – call the police!

  11. Yep, get drunk & irresponsible around a fire.

    I can totaly understand how this fuck up occured.

    Ben, fuckwits like you need to understand the difference between Rights & Privilage

  12. i feel for you,watching your forest burn is really tough. We watched Lemmon burn to the ground a couple years ago.

    I disagree with the banning of campfires. I find it odd that you bitch about restrictions enforced by USFS (no riding) and then come up with new restrictions for the USFS (no fires)to enforce. I enjoy campfires as much as the next guy. A more logical argument would be making all National Forest off limits.

  13. Jonny

    Sorry to here about the fire and loss of precious singletrack. I can’t agree with your stand on a absolute ban on campfires though. It would simply be impossible to enforce. Here in BC campfires are allowed dependent on conditions. I am an advocate of eduction, personal responsibility and common sense. If you gotta have a fire know how to put the fucker out! Don’t even think of it when it’s tinder dry.

    That said, fire is essential to the health of pine forests. The cones will not open and the forests don’t regenerate without fire. When you suppress fuel builds up to point where the fire is so intense it destroys everything. If pine forests burn frequently the fuel loads remain low and yellow pine and fir bark is quite naturally fire resistant so the tress survive fine. In BC we are paying the price for 50+ years of fire suppression. Pretty much all our lodgepole pine is dead from beetle and there is massive fuel loads in these forests so the fires are catastrophic, check our Barriere and Kelowna fires. Our poor management of our forests have caused the problems were seeing now, fire suppression is chief among these. We’ve set ourselves up for the massive uncontrollable fires we see now. The best management is prescribed burns done under controlled conditions not some douchebag who is to stupid to put out his/her campfire.
    I know this is hard to swallow but the forest will be better in the long run. This is from a guy who has worked in the forest most of the 25 years I have been in BC, and an avid rider and trailbuilder for 20. Hope you get some of the rain we’ve been getting for the last 5 weeks (I am sick of it), and it sounds like you guys need it more than we do.

  14. Ivan you raise some good points. Years of “overmanaging” the forests and not letting the natural culling of the dead wood on the forest floor has lead to some seriously explosive potential. Fire is a natural cleanser, but it is pretty tough to divide the good and bad when the people factor is entered in, leading to what I feel are some bad decisions by the forest service when it comes to fire prevention.

    As for banning fires, I agree that this may not be a bad idea, at least in peak fire danger periods. I remember the forests were basically closed in 1996 or there about due to extreme fire danger. Couple MTB races were postponed to the fall. Probably helped reduce the risk to some degree.

    On the flipside, despite the extreme danger and the warnings all over the place, I saw several cigarettes flipped out of car windows while driving up to Show-Low one weekend. Made me want to fun the fuckers off the road…so I guess the point is, you can ban stupid actions but it doesn’t get rid of stupid people who apparently don’t give a shit or don’t have enough brain cells to put together a coherent cause and potential effect scenario in their head.

    This sucks for Flagstaff, but it almost seems like the area has been lucky in avoiding the big fires for some time now.

    OTB – how is Mt. Lemmon recovering? Last few pictures I saw were still rather depressing…particularly those of some of Sabino Canyon’s once deep pools now filled with sediment from the excessive run-off.

  15. Just made my first trip to Flagstaff and spent some time in those hills before putting on the CO to float the GC. I was surprised by the beauty of the area around Flagstaff. Spent two weeks sleeping under the stars in the canyon no fires. There is no need for ’em at this time of year in the desert. Got some shitty things going on these days and can add the fact that my next visit to the area won’t be quite the same to the list of crap.

  16. i hate to say it but a campfire permit system should be establised. while it would be a pita for those of us who are responsible enough, it would limit the actions of those who are not. and it would be about the easiest thing for the FS to enforce.

    I can’t tell you how many hot, if not flaming, abandoned camp fires i’ve come across over the years.

    hell, we woke up to a forrest fire south of Globe around 10 yrs ago… FS yelling up to our tent to get out. sure enough, smoke billowing up over the ridge we were camped near… on the way out, i drove past a spot where a family was camped that night as well about a mile from where we were, fire still going strong… unbelievable.

    anyone up for a game of lawn darts?

  17. I lived in ID at the end of a REALLY bad drought in the mid 90s, working as a biologist for the Forest Service. The northwestern part of the Sawtooth was blowing up with huge fires, they were a few days from shutting down the forest to everyone except critical workers, and I would still find abandoned and smoldering campfires. One time I came upon one with hot coals, a burned up bikini, a rope, a machete, and $40… not a car in sight… Still have the machete. People are fucked up, and common sense is anything but… Even people who live in wildfire country behave like idiots when it comes to fire…

    That said, fire is a natural part of many of the ecosystems in the West and if we hadn’t been letting fuel loads build up by putting out every fire for the past 100 years, the fires wouldn’t be as bad and many forests wouldn’t be single aged stands with no young trees…

  18. Unreal. I know you Flagstaffers are heartbroken. Thoughts going out to you all. We could see the same issue this year. If we make it through July 4th I’ll be amazed.

  19. …ben sez “Take away my campfire, and I’m not camping”

    …cool…one step at a time, the self serving clowns (& their families) who aren’t willing to face a serious dose of reality are weeding themselves out…

    …& don’t gimme any “fuck you, bgw…we’re always careful, blah, blah, blah”…bottom line X 2 = drunk people (& you just admitted to getting drunk in the woods) are not renown for the best sense of judgment & if one person or party gets to do it, then everybody gets to do it…
    …that’s been proven to be ineffective…ie:- burned down forests due to carelessness…

    …if mother nature wants to clear an area with fire, let her send in lightning strikes, not idiots…

    …you want smores n’ baked potatoes ???…use a fucking bbq in your own backyard…

  20. As has been said many times about many things, the issue is not with campfires.

    The issue is with idiots, who happen to be in the woods making fires. If it wasn’t a campfire it would be a cigarette disposed of by an idiot.

    In Alberta, there was/is a well publicized “fire index” and at some points of the year the forests literally were closed to recreational use. which is a ban when you need it to be and smores-allowing when people exercise their “God given rights” to do whatever feel like, regardless of the (lack of) logic.

  21. Barry makes a really good point. My home in the ‘off school’ years was spent in a tent in the White Mountain National Forest. Safety was always first priority. Fun was always spangled with lessons on what could go wrong if you weren’t always thoughtful and careful. The strict physical laws of fire safety were at the top from day one. But fire was an integral part of our camping. This was where we all grouped together to tell stories and express feelings. But we were also taught about how something called respect. Something so simple as a fire made from kindling could become devestating. It scared the shit out of us.

    The Fire Index is right on. When it’s high, no one can build a fire. No exceptions. Every fire station in NE has the posting outside. But an all-out ban would do nothing for the responsible families who cherish the gathering aspect of fire but respect the rules. It would just leave it open to the jack offs who build a fire bigger than it needs to, and then passes out before they put it out. Sorry for the not so profound statement but an all out ban on fires? Please. it’s as primal birth.