How a 3rd-generation fire watcher sees the climate change from her tower in the Arizona pines

  • Source: The Arizona Republic - Metered Site
  • Published: 06/24/2022 12:00 AM

She practices her violin for upcoming performances with the White Mountain Symphony Orchestra while watching for smoke from 31 feet off the ground. She occasionally spots a turquoise-feathered Lazuli bunting while scanning the horizon for flames. Her grandfather is believed to have been the first fire lookout in Arizona, stationed at the Woody Mountain tree stand near Flagstaff in 1910. For the past 30 summers, except for the one after she had her daughter, Janie Croxen Ringleberg has called in to the Springerville Interagency Dispatch Center at 0800 before she starts her shift as one of the few remaining paid fire watch tower employees anywhere. At one point, Arizona had 120 active lookouts, according to the Forest Fire Lookout Association. As of 2011, only 77 towers were still standing and 58 were last known to be staffed by temporary employees or volunteers.


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