The Wallow Fire is burning a few miles SW of Alpine. It was still pretty small yesterday (about 6,000 acres) but exploded overnight to more than 100,000 acres today. The fire spread to the northeast toward Alpine today and the incident management team issued an evacuation order for Alpine a few minutes ago, requiring folks to leave the area by 8 p.m. tonight.
Our environmental health and public health preparedness teams are monitoring and helping with the planning for the incident. For example, we’ve determined that there are 3 group homes for folks with developmental disabilities (that we license) within 20 miles of the fire (none in Alpine) as well as 1 critical access hospital (about 20 beds), 2 small IHS hospitals, 2 outpatient psychiatric clinics, and 1 assisted living center. None of these facilities are in the closure or evacuation area yet- but with a fire like this (and it’s smoke) things can change quickly- so we’re working with our partners (ADES, County Health etc.) to ensure plans are in place to move folks if it becomes necessary because of the smoke or fire.
Our Department plays a significant role in the response for major wildland fires. Our initial roles mostly include environmental health functions, especially surrounding health risks from smoke, sanitary conditions and food safety in shelters. You can read more in our Wildfire Smoke and Your Health brochure and in our ADHS Wildfire Plan.